November 11, 2011
I love the infantry because they are the underdogs. They are the mud-rain-frost-and-wind boys. They have no comforts, and they even learn to live without the necessities. And in the end they are the guys that wars can't be won without.
It wasn't generals who interested him; he revered the common soldier, and his correspondence from the front lines was written much like a personal letter to a friend.
On the preparations to invade at Normandy:
The best way I can describe this vast armada and the frantic urgency of the traffic is to suggest that you visualize New York City on its busiest day of the year and then just enlarge that scene until it takes in all the ocean the human eye can reach clear around the horizon and over the horizon.
He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1944 for his stories of ordinary soldiers:
The men are walking. They are fifty feet apart, for dispersal. Their walk is slow, for they are dead weary, as you can tell even when looking at them from behind. Every line and sag of their bodies speaks their inhuman exhaustion.
It was a tough time to have expectations:
Someday when peace has returned to this odd world I want to come to London again and stand on a certain balcony on a moonlit night and look down upon the peaceful silver curve of the Thames with its dark bridges.
He never got the chance to see that moonlit night or the movie of his life, “The Story of GI Joe.”
On April 18, 1945, Ernie Pyle died on Le Shima, an island off Okinawa, after being hit by Japanese machine-gun fire.
Today is a day to remind ourselves that our American freedoms come at a cost. Not only in lives lost, but as Ernie Pyle pointed out, in other ways:
Our men can't make this change from normal civilians into warriors and remain the same people ... the abnormal world they have been plunged into, the new philosophies they have had to assume or perish inwardly, the horrors and delights ... they are bound to be different people from those you sent away. They are rougher than when you knew them. Killing is a rough business.
Veterans deserve our utmost gratitude and respect.