The freshmen Ernie Pyle Scholars traveled to Dana, Indiana, Aug. 27 to learn more about the program’s namesake, World War II correspondent. An Indiana journalism alumnus, Pyle covered both the European and Pacific arenas during the war, writing syndicated columns that quickly gained a following among people on the home front. Pyle spent time embedded with the soldiers on the front, and his columns that told of their experiences attracted readers who saw in these stories their own loved ones who were fighting overseas.
Each year, a new class of scholars enters the school, and their first of many group travel activities includes a trip to Dana, about two hours west of Bloomington, to see Pyle’s home and the World War II Museum established in his honor.
Here are reports and photos by three new scholars on the trip.
Learning about the legend
By Hannah Boufford
Though his friends knew him by his nickname, “Shag,” and his parents called him “Ernest,” the world knew him by his byline, “Ernie Pyle, War Correspondent.”
Now, our group of Ernie Pyle Scholars know much more about the program’s namesake and his life outside of journalism after our trip to his home town of Dana, Indiana, where we got a glimpse of who Pyle really was.
After taking a picture by the town welcome sign, we walked up the red brick stairs to the front door of Pyle’s childhood home. The house, built in 1851, was moved from its original site on farmland to the downtown area of Dana; it now sits next to a museum, which memorializes his life and legacy as a journalist and a friend.
Walking into the Pyle home was like walking back in time, surrounded by antique furniture and old photographs. Though most of the house had been refurbished by the townspeople of Dana, there were a couple items that actually belonged to the Pyles. A rocking chair, a clock, an egg basket and Ernie’s own checkerboard helped bring the little house to life and shared a clearer picture of the journalist’s childhood.
Though the world knows him as “Ernie Pyle, War Correspondent,” our scholars now know him as a role model. Learning about his life taught us that even though being a good journalist is important to us, being good person and a good friend should be our priority. He was a friend to all the people in his stories, and our group of scholars is excited to carry on that legacy.
A look at exhibits
By Bryn Eudy
As a journalism major at IU, I see Ernie Pyle is everywhere. He is the namesake of the program I am in, and his statue greets students as we enter newly renovated Franklin Hall.
Saturday, freshman Ernie Pyle Scholars rode two hours to the small town of Dana, Indiana, to learn more about the namesake of the Ernie Pyle Scholars program.
Pyle is known for his detailed accounts of life on the World War II battlefront. The Ernie Pyle World War II Museum reflects those years, as the exhibits present an informative and captivating mixture of video, article samples, artifacts and vocal presentations.
My favorite exhibit memorialized Pyle’s article, “A Long Thin Line of Personal Anguish.” In this exhibit, the bibles, family pictures, sewing kits and other personal items of soldiers were shown strewn along the water after the invasion at Normandy beach. Pyle said, “This is the strewn personal gear, gear that will never be needed again, of those who fought and died to give us our entrance into Europe.”
This museum gave a clearer picture of who Pyle was as a reporter.
He was no Washington-based reporter leading a live of safety; he was embedded with enlisted men in Europe and, later, the Pacific. Pyle was a friend to both soldiers and their loved ones as his syndicated columns became favorites with people on the home front.
It is safe to say that the other Ernie Pyle Scholars and I are excited to follow in his footsteps of being not only a good journalist, but a good person, too.