The Hoosier State Press Association and HSPA Foundation are assisting the national fundraising efforts for the Ernie Pyle World War II Museum.
The Friends of Ernie Pyle, which operates the museum, launched a nationwide campaign to bolster its efforts to preserve and expand the famous war correspondent’s legacy.
The museum, located in Pyle’s hometown of Dana in west-central Indiana, features Pyle’s birth home and adjacent Quonset huts containing memorabilia and multimedia presentations.
The Foundation Board of Directors earmarked $1,000 to assist the museum. The association has assisted with printing letters to potential donors and clerical tasks.
The museum no longer receives any state financial support, so continuation of the site is dependent on entrance fees, funds from the local township, and contributions from individuals and organizations like HSPA Foundation, said Cynthia Myers, president of the Friends of Ernie Pyle.
While these funds have allowed the group to keep the museum open on weekends from May through Veterans Day in November, more needs to be done.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources originally developed the grounds as a state historic site. The DNR turned over operations of the site to the Friends of Ernie Pyle in 2011.
The fundraising launch coincided with the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion on the beaches of Normandy of June 6, 1944.
Pyle was there and walked the beaches the following day gathering information that would lead to several D-Day columns, which later earned him the Pulitzer Prize for war coverage.
This is a special milestone for the generation of Americans who fought during that war, and the Friends of Ernie Pyle is dedicated to honoring their sacrifices, Myers said.
The best way to do that is to preserve Pyle’s legacy. His honest and poignant writings connected GI’s on the front lines to their worried families at home, and that is what endeared Pyle to so many.
The museum distributed three of Pyle’s D-Day columns to newspapers throughout the nation to share with readers as they did in 1944.
Pyle wrote columns for the Scripps Howard News Service during World War II, and by war’s end they were delivered to more than 14 million homes, according to his New York Times obituary.
As the war neared its end, a Japanese machine-gunner killed Pyle on the Pacific island of Ie Shima near Okinawa in April 1945.
“Even if the effort doesn’t generate any donations, the re-printing of the columns serves the museum’s mission to preserve the legacy of Ernie Pyle and the generation that he wrote so fondly about,” said Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel and a member of the Friends of Ernie Pyle Board of Directors.
To be a part of this national tribute to Pyle and the generation he chronicled, go to www.erniepyle.org and make a donation.
The Friends of Ernie Pyle is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation governed by a 13-member board of directors.
The museum is located in Dana on Ind. 71, one mile north of U.S. 36 in Vermillion County. The museum is open Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. Private tours can be arranged for any time year round by contacting the museum.