At an annual celebration of the famed World War 2 correspondent, Ernie Pyle, at his home in Albuquerque, N.M., a docent tells the small group about the permanent closing of Pyle’s childhood home, in his birthplace,in Indiana. As the docent continues, he reminds his aging audience of the steady inexorable disappearance of American history, the necessity of knowing our collective past.
Ernie Pyle was a celebrated World War 2 correspondent, but, today, there are many Americans who don’t know much about World War 2 except what they see in the movies. They don’t know Ernie Pyle, or Julius Caesar, or Frederick Douglas. They believe the American Civil War was only about the abolishment of slavery and the United States Constitution is outdated and irrelevant, written by stuffy white men who owned slaves and wore white wigs..
Where does history go when it is behind us?
Does God put His memos, research papers,videos and photos on shelves in his personal library? Does he go back and review his plans and progress for the Universe, make changes in the roll out of his vision ? Does knowing history mean we can stop or modify what is happening to us while we are in the middle of its happening?
On this pleasant afternoon, we are taken on a guided tour of Ernie Pyle’s life and times, in a place he fixed bacon and eggs for breakfast and read his newspaper thrown on the front porch by a neighborhood boy on a bicycle.
His house feels like a home and I walk away suspecting that Ernie would offer me a cold drink of lemonade on a hot summer day and have some good jokes to soften the wounds of World War 2 as we both set at a little table on the front porch with empty vistas of the Rio Grande Bosque several miles away.
He came from humble roots but was placed in the middle of one of the worst wars in human history.
His writings and his home survive him, and remembering is something we can still do for him.
Ernie volunteered for the war but some would say reporting on everyday Joe’s from the front lines was his destiny.
The beauty of his writing is that it seems like it was written for everybody but him.
The UNM south golf course is a championship course.
It has ankle deep grass in the rough, tricky greens, deep traps, rolling fairways and a few doglegs that would make a dog blush. You wouldn’t want to walk this course unless you were a mountain goat and a masochistic one at that. The greens on all the holes have multiple breaks and the greens keeper always puts the pins where you would expect with someone who fights with the wife a lot.
On the back nine there is a short par four dog leg to the left that wraps around a little pond with a huge cottonwood between the edge of the left fairway and the pond. Long hitters can try to fly the cottonwood and drive the green while the rest of us mortals lay up to the right and have a wedge shot into a small tight green guarded by a big trap.
The pond is shaded by the cottonwoods and a gaggle of ducks live there. When we golfers drive our carts down the fairway, the ducks waddle out to meet us and sample treats we bring from home and have stored in our golf bags just for them..
Growing up with ” Donald Duck” makes ducks seem approachable though we know these guys have a dangerous bill that gets aggressive if the duck feels threatened. If the ” Donalds ” get really bothered they usually turn back to their lake and paddle out to the middle where they can safely weather people storms.
Today, we give them treats and they stay just out of arm and golf club reach. We all hit our approaches to the green but no one makes their birdie putt. Walking off the green, we can hear the ” Donald’s” quacking like television sports announcers.
Whether they are ” cute” or a ” Nuisance” lies in the eyes of the beholder but they make a tough day on the course a little less disheartening.
Even championship courses need diversions, even ones that waddle and quack.
If I were a true horticulturist, I would know what this bush in my back yard with the pretty white flowers is called.
I would know its scientific and common names. I would know if the plant has medicinal uses, how much water it needs, the proper way to trim it, the best times of the year to transplant. In the city,us city folks don’t always keep up on the nature around us. In jungle villages, even little children know every plant and animal within their touch, how they can help and hurt.
I do like the fact that this getting bigger bush gives me shade, hides a neighbor’s back yard from view,doesn’t take a lot of maintenance and care, has nice flowers and attracts birds and bees.
This busy bee doesn’t pay me any mind as he digs into nature’s lunchbox but I don’t feel like I need to swat him or interrupt his lunch.
In a natural unwritten reciprocal agreement,the bee helps the plant reproduce and he gets a good meal in return.
When flowers and bees are out and about, it means it is warm and winter is a long long way off.
Dining, while hovering in mid air, is a tricky and remarkable skill that this insect is clearly a master at.
He would, I’m observing, make a damn good helicopter pilot in the next U.S. nation building exercise.
Learning from nature, before we eliminate it all, seems to be a good operating policy.
Ernie Pyle was a simple Indiana kid who liked to write and travel and found both as a World War 2 correspondent for Scripps-Howard newspapers.
He purchased a house in Albuquerque in the 1940’s and lived in it with his wife and dog Cheetah, till he was killed in the war he reported on. In his memory, his house has been turned into a National Landmark, and, once a year, there is a celebration of his life and achievements.
The house is a simple wood framed, pitched roof bungalow with shade trees around it. When Ernie moved into it, Albuquerque was a sleepy little town and he would have been on the edge of town with an unobstructed view of spectacular NM sunsets. Now the neighborhood is aging and close to the University of New Mexico where he would have taught journalism if he had survived the war that wouldn’t let him escape.
The celebration of his life is low key like he was, and, on a table in the library, where he used to read books by the fireplace, are personal letters to him from Presidents of the United States, military medals, and commendations for his war reporting. His prose is a simple yet strong as the home he built for himself.
This Pulitzer prize winning journalist was killed by a sniper’s bullet in the Pacific and he died as many of the soldiers he lovingly and respectfully wrote about that showed folks back home what their loved ones were enduring.
It is good to have a day to remember, if only once a year, those who have given so much.
Forgetting is all too easy but the wars just keep on coming.