Story and Photos by Tim Sproles
In the quiet town of Dana, Indiana, a white two-story house with an amazing story sits on the corner of North Maple Street and Briarwood Avenue.
The house itself has seen better days. It was built over a century ago, and this time-damaged house is starting to show its age. The wood siding has even reached a point where it is too old to hold a new coat of paint.
Integral repairs are needed and people around the state are getting involved because this isn’t just any “old” house. This is the birthplace and family home of Pulitzer Prize–winning Hoosier journalist and World War II correspondent, Ernie Pyle.
The house and surrounding grounds make up the Ernie Pyle World War II Museum, which is facilitated by the Friends of Ernie Pyle, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and advancing the legacy of Ernie Pyle.
Steve Key, President of the Friends of Ernie Pyle, said, “we priced out how much it will take to make these repairs and it came out to just over $90 thousand. It’s a large amount, but we had to do something.”
Members of the board knew that they would need help raising the money to make this project happen, luckily, they didn’t have to go far for assistance.
Key said, “We are honored to have Past Department of Indiana Commander, Rodney Strong as a member of our board. Back in 2017, he brought it to the board’s attention that his command year was approaching and he needed a commander’s project.”
There is a time-honored tradition that each Commander of The American Legion Department of Indiana name a special fundraising project to collect donations throughout the year and PDC Strong had just found his.
Strong said that it was easy to put the two together, because The American Legion has history with this museum.
He said, “In the 1970s The Department of Indiana helped raise funds to salvage this home and turn it into a museum and in 2016, a resolution was passed by our Department Executive Committee in support of the Ernie Pyle World War II museum.”
But the correlation between Ernie Pyle and our Hoosier veterans goes even deeper.
Strong said, “During Ernie Pyle’s time as a war correspondent, he was known as a serviceman’s friend. His dispatches fully illustrated the horrors of war and highlighted the brave Americans who fought it. For many, support for this museum not only preserves the Legacy of Ernie Pyle, but the servicemembers he wrote about.”
Key said, “When you read his work, you can feel the heat of the north African desert, you can feel the blistering cold of the winter in the mountains of Italy, or you can see the tired soldiers marching to their next battle. His writing endeared him to those veterans and their families, and that respect continues today.”
Throughout the 2018-2019 command year, PDC Strong campaigned for donations, and they rolled in from every corner of the state. On Saturday, Aug. 3, PDC Strong presented the Friends of Ernie Pyle with a check for $39 thousand to go toward the preservation project.
When handed the check, Steve Key immediately showed his appreciation by hugging PDC Strong.
He said, “I didn’t think a handshake fully covered it. We are so appreciative of the hard work of Rodney and the outpouring of support from The American Legion, I couldn’t contain it. This brought us within a third of our goal. That kind of donation deserves a hug.”
Steve Key and other members of the Friends of Ernie Pyle will bring greeting during the Department Fall Conference General Session Saturday Oct. 5.
For more information on the Ernie Pyle World War II Museum, and how you can help secure the legacy of Ernie Pyle, Click Here.
Together, we change lives for Veterans, their families and their communities.
Tell us Your Story