Remembering Ernie Pyle

Journalist Ernie PyleErnie Pyle, a hero of ours, was born 117 years ago today on a farm near Dana, Indiana, on August 3, 1900. He’s best remembered today as a war correspondent during World War II. Pyle repeatedly put himself in harm’s way, positioning himself with the troops at the front lines so that he could tell the stories of the common soldiers, sailors and airmen who were fighting the war. His courageous approach to reportage made him beloved by folks back home who were eager to have some sense of what their loved ones were experiencing overseas.

But even before he devoted himself to covering the war, Pyle was a groundbreaking journalist. In the early thirties, he was the most respected writer in the country who covered the aviation beat, and from the mid-’30s through the United States’ entrance into World War II, he traveled the country’s back roads and byways, writing a syndicated column for Scripps-Howard about the people he met while traveling and the things he saw.

Here’s a story we wrote for the Guideposts magazine website about Pyle’s life and career.

Happy birthday, Ernie, wherever you may be…

Ernie Pyle (with goggles) converses with a tank crew from the 191st Tank Battalion, US Army at the Anzio Beachhead in 1944

Happy 99th Birthday, Lena Horne!

The wonderful Lena Horne was born Lena Calhoun Horne 99 years ago today in Brooklyn, New York.

    Lena Horne Did-You-Knows

  • Lena Horne was raised in large part by her grandparents while her mother pursued a career as an actress (her parents split when she was a toddler).
  • Horne quit school at age 14 and by 16, she was dancing (and later singing) at the renowned Cotton Club in Harlem.
  • MGM, worried that Horne would be perceived as white onscreen, had makeup artist Max Factor create a line of makeup for her called Dark Egyptian.
  • Horne was turned down at least twice—Pinky (1949), Show Boat (1951)—for film roles as light-skinned black women who pass for white. In both cases, white actresses were cast and had their skin darkened with makeup.
  • Horne was a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority.
  • Horne’s favorite actor was John Garfield.
  • During World War II, Horne refused to perform before racially segregated audiences of American soldiers. This was against Army policy, but she held her ground, putting on a show for a mixed audience of African-American soldiers and German POWs.
  • Accused of having Communist sympathies because of her civil rights activities dating back to the 1940s and her enduring friendship with Paul Robeson, Horne was blacklisted from films and became a cabaret performer.
  • Horne was born on the same day and in the same city—Brooklyn, NY—as actress Susan Hayward.
  • Horne worked with Eleanor Roosevelt on anti-lynching laws and was a frequent guest in the Kennedy White House.

Happy birthday, Ms. Horne—wherever you may be!

Lena Horne