Friday, January 25, 2013

Ernie Pyle: More Than the Name of a Building

Ah, finally, a Friday night in. A bottle of red wine on my desk, me all snuggly in my pajamas, and Christina Aguilera playing in the background for a little nostalgia. What's not to love?

If only my reality were as sweet as that image.

In reality, I can barely keep a straight face as Christina Aguilera whispers, "Pero me amo, pero me amo," in what I expected to be "Genie in a Bottle." Pero no, this is "Genio Atrapado." I guess I was a little too giddy in scooping up the album from the library to make sure it was the English version. And as far as snuggly PJs go, I've been in these babies since I went to bed last night. Oh don't worry, I showered today, but as soon as I got out I slipped these red-and-white bad boys back on. So they're probably needing a shower as well....Now the wine, the wine is gorgeous. It's a sweeter, soft red wine, not bitter or sour. At least, that's what the label tells me, because I happen to be short one very vital corkscrew.

Yay, Friday.

I tell ya what though, last Friday was a fun time. On that morning, I boarded a bus and tagged along for a FREE fieldtrip (something free in college!) to the Ernie Pyle World War II Museum in Dana, Ind. As a journalism student at IU who spends 90% of her scholarly time in Ernie Pyle Hall, you'd think I knew more about the guy. But to tell you the truth, I was clueless. So when I left that morning, I hoped to come back with the ability to give a better description of him than "war correspondent."

And I did. I learned about his life growing up in a town even teenier than mine, a life where sons are raised to be farmers and he wanted none of that. Pyle wanted to see the world, and so begged his mother to let him enlist. But his mother was The Enforcer, a lot like mine, and she said he was finishing school, so that was what happened. After high school he decided to go to IU, and enrolled in the School of Journalism with friend Paige Cavanaugh (Note: Paige is a dude...this fact eluded me for most of the day). He dropped out a semester before graduating and went to work at the LaPorte Herald for a few months before marrying Jerry Siebolds (yet this one is a chick), who he referred to as "that girl." She struggled with depression and alcoholism, and their marriage wasn't a happy one.

He went on to become managing editor of the Washington Daily News in Washington, Ind., which is eventually where he became a war correspondent after doing several pieces on the road and traveling all over the states. He reported from Europe, Africa, and the Pacific. He and Jerry got a divorce in 1943 while he was home from the war for a period; in 1945, he was killed by Japanese machine-gun fire on an island near Okinawa.

I could go on and on about this man, but I'll let you guys check Wiki instead cause otherwise I'd write forever. I will say this, though: I am so proud to gain an education in a school that honors his legacy, and I'm so grateful to know we're not so different. He wanted to escape that small Indiana town and see the world. He loved to write, and not just the cold hard facts. He gave faces and names to the masses, those boys and men across the sea; the ones who had moms just as crazy nervous as his, and whose names deserved to be remembered and put down in ink.

Ernie Pyle made those men into more than "soldiers" for the American public, and for that he is much more than a "war correspondent" to me.

Ernie, center, shares a cigarette with Marines on Okinawa.
A photo of Ernie, left, near an issue of LIFE magazine all about WWII.

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