“Dead Men by Mass Production”

June 1st, 2004 - by admin

WWII Correspondent Ernie Pyle’s Last Letter – 2004-06-01 09:08:40

Ernie Pyle was an American war correspondent whose columns about the human cost of war brought home some the most graphic images from WWII. Pyle was killed in April 1945, just as the war was drawing to a close.

The following draft was found in his pocket. It was never published, presumably because it spoke so honestly about the loss of war.

And so it is over. The catastrophe on one side of the world has run its course.

The day that had so long seemed would never come has come at last…. but my heart is still in Europe… For the companionship of two and a half years of death and misery is a spouse that tolerates no divorce.

I hope Americans would celebrate the victory in Europe with a sense of relief rather than elation, for in the joyousness of high spirits it is easy for us to forget the dead….

There are so many of the living who have burned into their brains forever the unnatural sight of cold dead men scattered over the hillsides and in the ditches along the high rows of hedge throughout the world.

Dead men by mass production — in one country after another — month after month and year after year.

Dead men in winter and dead men in summer. Dead men in such familiar promiscuity that they become monotonous. Dead men in such monstrous infinity that you come almost to hate them.

Those are the things that you at home need not even try to understand. To you at home they are columns of figures, or he is a near one who went away and just didn’t come back.

You didn’t see him lying so grotesque and pasty beside the gravel road in France.

We saw him. Saw him by the multiple thousands. That’s the difference.