This final chapter is being written in the latter part of August, 1944; it is being written under an apple tree in a lovely green orchard in the interior of France. It could well be that the European war will be over and done with by the time you read this book. Or it might not. But the end is inevitable, and it cannot be put off for long. The German is beaten and he knows it.
We have won because we have had magnificent top leadership, at home and in our Allies and with ourselves overseas. Surely America made its two perfect choices in General Eisenhower and General Bradley. They are great men-to me doubly great because they are direct and kind.
We won because we were audacious. One could not help but be moved by the colossus of our invasion.
In the emergency of war our nation’s powers are unbelievable. The strength we have spread around the world is appalling even to those who make up the individual cells of that strength. I am sure that in the past two years I have heard soldiers say a thousand times, “If only we could have created all this energy for something good.” But we rise above our normal powers only in times of destruction.
We have won this war because our men are brave, and because of many other things-because of Russia, and England, and the passage of time, and the gift of nature’s materials. We did not win it because destiny created us better than all other peoples. I hope that in victory we are more grateful than we are proud. I hope that we can rejoice in victory-but humbly. The dead men would not want us to gloat.
Last night we had a violent electrical storm around our countryside. The storm was half over before we realized that the flashes and the crashings around us were not artillery but plain old-fashioned thunder and lightning. It will be odd to hear only thunder again.
These are the words of Ernie Pyle, who was killed by a Japanese sniper eight months later in Okinawa; he was the finest “Embedded reporter” of the Second World War. Michael at Christian Conservative asked, “What is heroism?” and I thought I would share a great example. This came from the final chapter of his book, “Brave Men”.
Are there any Ernie Pyles writing today? Yes.