“There’s nothing nice about the prospect of going back to war again. Anybody who has been in war and wants to go back is a plain damn fool in my book.”
- Back Again, Feb. 6, 1945
In observance of the 75th anniversary of D-Day, we are reprinting two columns written by Ernie Pyle immediately after the Normandy invasion. The son of tenant farming parents in west-central Indiana, Pyle became history’s greatest war correspondent. When Pyle was killed by a Japanese machine gun bullet on the tiny Pacific island of Ie Shima in 1945, his columns were being delivered to more than 14 million homes, according to his obituary published in The New York Times.
Pyle was a master of telling the story of the little guy, of describing the fears and daily strife of soldiers fighting in World War II. He was not just a passionate writer, however. An early “embedded journalist,” he worked alongside the troops, experiencing much of what they did, placing himself in danger as they did. His columns captured the scene and his reporting humanized the war for many of his readers.
Pyle wrote about the hardships and bravery of the common soldier, not grand strategy. His description of the G.I.’s life was more important to families on the home front than battlefront tactics of Gens. Dwight Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur, George Patton or Omar Bradley.
Prior to the United States’ entry into World War II, Pyle traveled to England and wrote about the Nazi’s continual bombing of London. His columns helped move the mood of America from isolationism to sympathy for the stubborn refusal of Great Britain to succumb to the will of Adolf Hitler.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist’s legacy rests in his words and the impact they had on Americans before and during a war that threatened to take the world behind a curtain of fascism. His columns open a window to the hardships endured by the common U.S. soldier during World War II and serve today to honor what has been called “The Greatest Generation.”
The Ernie Pyle World War II Museum in Dana, Ind., features the famous journalist’s birthplace and is dedicated to his life and writings as a war correspondent. The museum is owned by the Friends of Ernie Pyle.
To learn more about the museum, or make a donation to assist the efforts of the Friends of Ernie Pyle to honor him and that generation, visit www.erniepyle.org.
Permission to distribute and re-publish Ernie Pyle’s columns was given by the Scripps Howard Foundation.