From March 10 through the 19, I traveled “In the Footsteps of Ernie Pyle,” going to London, Normandy and Paris with a group of students and professors from Indiana University. As it is a terrible pain to try and keep up with this and my own writing for the IU Media School, I have decided to create a collection of some of my favorite photos from the trip.
A last look at Ernie Pyle outside of Franklin Hall. A “graduate” of Indiana University, Pyle did some of the best reporting of World War II.
I wanted to see what he saw, so I took the course. Now, I will travel to London, Normandy and Paris like him.
I never gave this poster a second thought. I still can’t believe I ended up taking this trip.
I hate traveling. I just want to go places and have everything I need appear where I am. Back in the real world, I’m glad I could carry all my insulin and have room to spare.
Nothing more needs to be said.
Just looking at the architecture in London was enough to make me feel like I was a world away from home. It only got better from there.
On the way to the hotel, we could only see some of the city. The next day was going to be amazing.
Our hotel was beautiful. I only wish I had had more time to walk around in the area.
Just dropping the luggage after 12 hours of travel felt amazing.
The view was quaint and perfect. I could have walked around the city forever.
After climbing an unbelievable amount of stairs, we made it to the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral and saw this when we looked down. St. Paul’s is one of the few buildings to have escaped the Blitz with only a few bumps.
What used to be a church is now a community garden. This was one of many buildings completely obliterated by German bombings.
I must say, what the tube lacks in pleasantries it makes up for in convenience. I can’t imagine getting around London any other way.
To walk around underground where Winston Churchill once made war plans was amazing. He moved down there for the duration of the war after bombs began to hit a bit too close for comfort.
Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament will never bore me. They are more than tourist magnets; they are also absolutely beautiful structures that symbolize London for people around the world.
The Imperial War Museum was an exercise in frustration for me. How anybody could spend less than two days walking through the facility is beyond me.
The oldest pub in London, the Cheshire Cheese, was a fabulous find. To put it in perspective, the building (which rather resembled a cross between a wine cellar and catacombs inside) was rebuilt in 1667.
St. Bride’s Church is billed as “the Journalists’ Church.” People here pray for reporters covering dangerous situations as well as those missing or killed in action. (Side note: the basement has a host of human bones that were left there as well as excavation points that go deep enough to see a Roman street. The history is astounding beneath the surface).
Seeing Buckingham Palace this time made me think of WWII more than anything else. When it was hit by a bomb during the Blitz, the Queen was able to look at her people and say she did understand their struggles (even if it was on a very different scale).
While in Europe, I made my first legal alcohol purchase, with which I was very satisfied. It still amazes me that laws in two countries could be so very different for such arbitrary reasons.
To take a seven hour ferry ride from Portsmouth to Caen was quite the adventure. I refuse to acknowledge how seasick I was, but I am proud to say I made it.
Leaving England and crossing the English Channel, I couldn’t even imagine taking the trip as a solider. It was something so beautiful, but also likely the last time some of those men traveled.
My only complaint was that it was so cold on the water. I would have loved to sit outside and pass the time, but the wind and the weather didn’t allow for it (in spite of the sun).
While I tried to spend time reading, writing and avoiding the nauseated feeling that was brewing in the back of my throat, others found different ways to pass the time.
At night, the view of the lights on the ship and then the coastline were breathtaking. It became my measurement of how close we were to shore and almost a form of entertainment in itself.
Standing at Pointe du Hoc in Normandy took me to a completely new level of understanding of the war. Seeing the craters in the earth, the old concrete shelters and the barbed wire still standing made me very aware of the fact that there were people here, living in the war and dying in the war.
The American Cemetery and its rows of white crosses. Here, hundreds and hundreds of soldiers and civilians were laid to rest for the last time, having been moved and reburied up to three times before then.
In Bayeux, we saw the only Journalists’ Memorial in the world. Each six foot slab of limestone had the names of reporters killed in action since World War II.
The most important name to me was right here. Ernie Pyle was the reason I went overseas, and honestly, I wish we had had more experience with him and his work and his history on the trip.
Our tour guide, Helen, essentially invited herself (and all of us) into the city hall. Here, we just “happened” upon the grade of William the Conquerer and other unbelievable artifacts.
Mont St. Michel is literally a castle island. It is absolutely beautiful to behold, rich in history and full of stories I wanted to track down.
The town on the island was quaint and perfect. I even met a lovely gentleman there who taught me a bit about Mont St. Michel. His shop is up the road and on the left.
Unfortunately for us, St. Michel (St. Michael) was not actually atop the building while we were there. It had been taken down for repairs and restoration (but I did find a photo of it on a postcard).
My first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower may have been from the tour bus, but that didn’t make it any less stunning. In fact, after five hours traveling from Caen, I was happy to see anything that meant we were going to be able to walk again.
I did not know the tower sparkled at night, but after virtually no wait at all, I found myself at the top of it looking down over Paris at night. I could not see myself starting our stay in Paris in any other way. It was perfect.
Inside of the Musee de L’Armee sits Napoleon’s grave. It was one of the many notable graves found inside the building.
The Musee de L’Armee was once a hospital for those injured in war. Now, it has become a memorial for those same soldiers.
Apparently Le Consulat was not only the scene of Woody Allen’s “I Love You.” It’s also one of his favorite places to frequent in Paris.
In walking past such places as Picasso’s Paris apartment, my group and I stumbled onto a film set. We were promptly permitted to walk through and see what was going on between takes. Unbelievable.
Finding out Moulin Rouge translates merely to “Red Windmill” was a bit of a let down. Seeing the structure itself, though, was fantastic.
Thanks to this little projector, I now know what Ernest Hemingway’s naked behind looks like. As far as I’m concerned, that was a priceless discovery.
John Morris will turn 100 years old this December. He has worked with such photojournalists as Robert Capa and is seen here holding what may soon be his completed memoir.
Notre Dame is every bit as beautiful as I was led to believe. Both the outside and inside are absolutely stunning.
The Louvre is absolutely gargantuan. Though I didn’t have time to go inside, just walking around outside was a worthwhile experience.
After Paris tore the locks off the former Love Lock Bridge, a new bridge began accumulating the symbols of everlasting love. This time, i hope Paris will at least do us the service of making the locks an art exhibit should they need to be removed.
Well, this about sums up my trip. It may have taken me a ridiculously long time to gather my thoughts and my photos, but here they are. Now that this is complete, you can expect to see me posting content regularly again.
Please, tell me stories and ask me questions about my experience walking in the footsteps of Ernie Pyle. As long as I can keep talking about it, I will believe it actually happened.