New scholars visit Pyle home town

The Media School Report • Aug. 29, 2016
Freshmen Ernie Pyle Scholars gathered in front of Pyle's home in Dana, Indiana. (Courtesy photo)
Freshmen Ernie Pyle Scholars gathered in front of Pyle’s home in Dana, Indiana. (Courtesy photo)

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

Museum and home of Pyle
The Pyle home and the museum have been restored and maintained in honor of the World War II correspondent. (Hannah Boufford | The Media School)

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.

students at museum
From left, Cameron Drummond, Bryn Eudy and Kate McNeal read Pyle’s column about his experience at Normandy. The scene in front of them is set up based on his description of the battle’s aftermath. (Lydia Gerike | The Media School)

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

Reading the plaque
Emerson Wolff looked at a replica of a plaque that reads, “At this spot, the 77th Infantry Division lost a Buddy, Ernie Pyle, 18 April 1945” in the Ernie Pyle WWII Museum. The original plaque was placed on the Japanese island of Ie Shima where Pyle died. (Lydia Gerike | The Media School)

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.”

Pyle home kitchen
Hannah Boufford, Kate McNeal and Mary Kate Hamilton listened to a tour guide explain mealtimes and cooking in the Pyle kitchen. (Lydia Gerike | The Media School)

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.