Tuesday, February 14, 2017

War correspondents--why?

Do you know who Ernie Pyle was?


NORMANDY BEACHHEAD, June 16, 1944 – I took a walk along the historic coast of Normandy in the country of France.
It was a lovely day for strolling along the seashore. Men were sleeping on the sand, some of them sleeping forever. 
Men were floating in the water, but they didn’t know they were in the water, for they were dead.
The water was full of squishy little jellyfish about the size of your hand. Millions of them. In the center each of them had a green design exactly like a four-leaf clover. The good-luck emblem. Sure. Hell yes.
I walked for a mile and a half along the water’s edge of our many-miled invasion beach. 
You wanted to walk slowly, for the detail on that beach was infinite.
The wreckage was vast and startling. The awful waste and destruction of war, even aside from the loss of human life, has always been one of its outstanding features to those who are in it. Anything and everything is expendable. 
And we did expend on our beachhead in Normandy during those first few hours.
For a mile out from the beach there were scores of tanks and trucks and boats that you could no longer see, for they were at the bottom of the water – swamped by overloading, or hit by shells, or sunk by mines. Most of their crews were lost.
You could see trucks tipped half over and swamped. You could see partly sunken barges, and the angled-up corners of jeeps, and small landing craft half submerged. And at low tide you could still see those vicious six-pronged iron snares that helped snag and wreck them.
On the beach itself, high and dry, were all kinds of wrecked vehicles. There were tanks that had only just made the beach before being knocked out. There were jeeps that had been burned to a dull gray. There were big derricks on caterpillar treads that didn’t quite make it. There were half-tracks carrying office equipment that had been made into a shambles by a single shell hit, their interiors still holding their useless equipage of smashed typewriters, telephones, office files.
There were LCT’s (landing craft tanks) turned completely upside down, and lying on their backs, and how they got that way I don’t know. There were boats stacked on top of each other, their sides caved in, their suspension doors knocked off.
In this shoreline museum of carnage, there were abandoned rolls of barbed wire and smashed bulldozers and big stacks of thrown-away lifebelts and piles of shells still waiting to be moved.
In the water floated empty life rafts and soldiers’ packs and ration boxes, and mysterious oranges.
On the beach lay snarled rolls of telephone wire and big rolls of steel matting and stacks of broken, rusting rifles.
On the beach lay, expended, sufficient men and mechanism for a small war. They were gone forever now. And yet we could afford it.
We could afford it because we were on, we had our toehold, and behind us there were such enormous replacements for this wreckage on the beach that you could hardly conceive of their sum total. Men and equipment were flowing from England in such a gigantic stream that it made the waste on the beachhead seem like nothing at all, really nothing at all.
A few hundred yards back on the beach is a high bluff. Up there we had a tent hospital, and a barbed-wire enclosure for prisoners of war. From up there you could see far up and down the beach, in a spectacular crow’s-nest view, and far out to sea.
And standing out there on the water beyond all this wreckage was the greatest armada man has ever seen. You simply could not believe the gigantic collection of ships that lay out there waiting to unload.
Looking from the bluff, it lay thick and clear to the far horizon of the sea and beyond, and it spread out to the sides and was miles wide. Its utter enormity would move the hardest man.
As I stood up there I noticed a group of freshly taken German prisoners standing nearby. They had not yet been put in the prison cage. They were just standing there, a couple of doughboys leisurely guarding them with tommy guns.
The prisoners too were looking out to sea – the same bit of sea that for months and years had been so safely empty before their gaze. Now they stood staring almost as if in a trance.
They didn’t say a word to each other. They didn’t need to. The expression on their faces was something forever unforgettable. In it was the final horrified acceptance of their doom.
If only all Germans could have had the rich experience of standing on the bluff and looking out across the water and seeing what their compatriots saw.
War Correspondent

Who was Edward R. Murrow?

War Correspondent

Comment below, by 5 pm, Monday, Feb. 27,
1. One paragraph: Why do you think anyone would want to be an international journalist today?
2. One paragraph: Comment on what makes Pyle's writing  and Murrow's narration so effective?


  1. 1. I think one of the main reasons someone would want to be an international journalist, is so they can be apart of documenting history. The work of an international journalist is vital to the rest of the world. Having the guts to put themselves into harms way just to inform the public, is truly admirable work.

    2. The work of Pyle's and Murrow is excellent. They do a very good job of detailing exactly what is happening, and making the listener or the reader feel like they are apart of the situation in which they are reporting.

  2. 1. You get to be there and live history, and then document it for everyone else. You achieve a certain degree of immortality, and the thrill is addicting.

    2. When Pyle and Murrow were writing, people in America still really hadn't seen war with their own eyes. Their ability to paint a realistic, engrossing picture of the carnage and heroism spoke volumes to civilians back home in the 40s.

  3. 1. It'd definitely be an exciting career, so many people probably do it for the thrill, to document and share history, or maybe they enjoy this sort of content.
    2. The two describe the scene, whether it's a bomb (or several) going off, or if it's dead bodies laying in front of them, they have their audience feeling as if they are there.

  4. 1. Not only is it an exciting and awarding career, but that person gets the opportunity to live out the moments we read about in our history books. It take a lot of courage and passion to put ones life at risk, however, be able to vividly document and report live events can be very exciting at the same time.

    2. Both Pyle and Murrow put their audiences at the forefront of the action. Giving specific detail and vivid depictions of time, settings and scenery gave people realistic implications of what was happening when events like heroism and carnage took place.

  5. International journalism is the work of a truly brave, determined soul. The want to be an international journalist could be because of the thrill or it could be because someone wants to be remembered for documenting a significant part of history.

    Pyle and Murrow's writing is effective due to their talent of painting the picture for the world to see. Back then, there wasn't a TV or social media or a phone to help show a sudden event. They simply used their words to strike at the hearts of the world and really grab their attention; making them become a part of the scene and making it that much more real for everyone.

  6. International journalists enjoy their career because they get to indulge into their own curiosity while at the same time exploring diverse cultures. People who cannot relate to a 9-5 office environment might like to become an international journalist.

    They’re ability to bond with the troops and capture real life emotions is what made their writing so effective.

  7. Being an international journalist is a distinct honor in certain ways. To effectively tell the complete narrative of international events and make them matter to the average U.S. citizen is not something everyone can do.

    Murrow and Pyle use descriptive language to envelop the listener with the imagery they are seeing. They also remove themselves from the situation to some degree; they are simply the narrator of a story unfolding around them.

  8. I would like to be an international journalist today for the same reason I wanted to be one since elementary school--because traveling the world while writing about topics of consequence is thrilling and self-rewarding to me. Being exposed to cultures and conflict that are not my own is what a rigid person like me needs. It makes me less crappy, and I'm grateful for it.

    I feel like Pyle writes from a very personal level as he views the aftermath and illustrates the scene. Murrow narrates the battle in a slightly more objective way that still has lots of emotion. Both are so impactful, because their voices are authentic. They are not trying to communicate from someone else's perspective; they are writing and speaking important, awe-inspiring moments of history when it was still the present moment. Goosebumps.

  9. International journalists standout among others because they uncover the stories that others aren't bold enough to look for. They experience other cultures and are able to document not only their nation's history, but the world's.

    Murrow and Pyle were able to paint the scene for their audience with their calm, descriptive narration. Without a film crew, people at home were able to imagine and experience the war in a way no other journalists could provide. If not for them, this part of history would not have been documented so effectively.

  10. I think people want to be international journalist because they get to be the voice that people hear back home. In kind of the same since as how Murrow and Pyle as so well respected today, because the American people trusted them. Also the major stories come from across the world, so who wouldn't want to travel and write about major international affairs

    Pyle's writing was so effective because of the subjects that he was writing about. He made the story feel more personal because he was writing about real people, and not just the conflict as a whole. I think Murrow was effective because of the style in which he did it. He was so descriptive and gave so much color to the situation that the listeners couldn't experience first hand

  11. 1. I think international journalist is one of the careers that you can actually immerse yourself into other's culture and at the same time gaining knwoledge. Not only this, but international journalist can also experience the real situation and write not only the true facts, but the real feelings for people.

    2. Pyle and Murrow's works gave people vivid images through their words. They are so descriptive to the point that you really feel like you were at the exact place experiencing what they did. They are not only writing or narrating the story fo war, but conveying and unfolding the importance and the cruelty of truth to the people.

  12. Being an international journalists is a career that gives. It gives journalists opportunities to travel, experience new cultures, and develop skills like learning a language. International journalists document history in the making.

    Murrow and Pyle are calm and descriptive with their narration. Listeners were able to paint a picture of what was happening without being overwhelmed by the information Murrow and Pyle were giving.