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[graphic] Featured Historic Place

[Photo] Ernie Pyle House in Albuquerque, New Mexico
NPS Photo by Marilyn Harper

The Ernie Pyle House, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is the property most closely associated with the wartime career of Ernie Pyle, a winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his World War II coverage, usually written from the viewpoint of the everyday soldier. Built in 1940, it was his home until his death in 1945. Probably more people read Pyle's work than many of the other correspondents who covered World War II, and Pyle was certainly the best loved. Writing a column six days a week for the Scripps-Howard chain of newspapers, he was read by an estimated 40 million people, most of whom considered him a personal friend. Uninterested in the “Big Picture” of politics and strategy, he preferred to spend his time reporting on the day-to-day lives of the ordinary soldiers. His goal was always “making people at home see what I see.” Biographer James Tobin calls him “the interpreter, the medium, and teacher who taught Americans what to think and how to feel about their boys overseas.”

[Photo] Living room of Ernie Pyle House
NPS Photo by Marilyn Harper

In 1944, Pyle received the Pulitzer Prize for his war reporting during the previous year. Although he set the standard for correspondents through the Korean War, his kind of reporting fell out of favor after Vietnam. Pyle has been criticized for his unwillingness to question the conduct of the war or to reveal all the horror of combat, but even his critics concede that he was “the most important interpreter of the war to the American public.” Pyle's depiction of the front-line infantryman—more concerned about loyalty to his colleagues than with high moral purpose, afraid of death but persevering in spite of it, warriors but still taming baby goats as pets—helped people on the unbombed, peaceful home front maintain their connection with the war and with their sons, brothers, husbands, and boyfriends in the service. As Tobin says, “His published version of World War II had become the nation's version. And if Ernie Pyle himself had not won the war, America's mental picture of the soldiers who had won it was largely Pyle's creation. He and his grimy G.I.s, frightened but enduring, had become the heroic symbols of what the soldiers and their children would remember as ‘the Good War'.”1

[Photo] Ernie Pyle House, now the Ernie Pyle Branch Library of Albuquerque, New Mexico
NPS Photo by Marilyn Harper
On April 18th, 1945, Pyle was killed by Japanese gunfire while
reporting on World War II in the Pacific. A few years later, his house was turned into the first branch in the Albuquerque public library system.
Today, it continues to function as a library but also as a tribute to
Pyle. Besides books and periodicals, the Ernie Pyle Branch Library contains
photos, newspaper clippings, letters and other memorabilia related to Pyle
and his wife, Jerry.

1. Pyle to Lee Miller, December 28, 1940, quoted in James Tobin, Ernie Pyle's War: America's Eyewitness to World War II (New York: The Free Press, 1997), 54; op. cit., 118.

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