April 18 – National Columnists Day

Today April 18 is National Columnists Day. Dallas Morning News columnist Dave Lieber picked the date. On that day in 1945, the “finest columnist of the 20th century” was killed in battle. Lieber celebrated the day and the man in his column in today’s edition of the News.

Ernie Pyle
(Library of Congress)

Ernie Pyle began writing about World War II in England. In 1940, he covered the Battle of Britain. He returned to Europe in 1942 as a war correspondent for Scripps-Howard newspapers. Beginning in North Africa in late 1942, Pyle spent time with the U.S. military during the North African Campaign, the Italian campaign, and the Normandy landings. He was assigned to cover the Asiatic-Pacific Theater in January 1945. Pyle was covering the invasion of Okinawa when he was killed in April 1945.

As a war correspondent, he wrote from the perspective of the common soldier; explaining how the war affected the men instead of reporting on troop movements or the activities of generals. His descriptions of or reactions to an event in simple, informal stories are what set Pyle’s writing apart and made him famous during the war.

Mr. Lieber wrote about Pyle’s personal difficulties with his wife. She suffered with mental problems and was subjected to shock treatments.

In contrast, Lieber described his 26-year marriage partnership. His wife accompanied him on assignments often under cover to obtain the information Lieber used in his columns. She also checked his writing before it was sent to the paper.

When I read about Dave’s marriage, I noted the 54-year partnership with my own wife. She has accompanied me to over 150 American Civil War sites, proof-read my manuscripts and blogs, helped me at book signings, and provided much needed comfort and understanding of my frustration with computers, publishers, politicians.

Thank you Dave, for reminding me of how much my bride has supported me all these years.

And, yes she proofread this document and corrected three of my errors.

About Allen Mesch

Allen is an author, educator, and historian. He has written six books: The Analyst; Teacher of Civil War Generals; Your Affectionate Father, Charles F. Smith; Charles A. Marvin - "One Year. Six Months, and Eleven Days", Preparing for Disunion, and Ebenezer Allen - Statesman, Entrepreneur, and Spy. He taught classes on the American Civil War at Collin College. He has visited more than 130 Civil War sites and given presentations at Civil War Roundtables.
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