Monday, June 25, 2012

Thursday June 28th @ 8:00 pm - One-Man Play about Ernie Pyle

At the time of his death on April 18, 1945, Ernie Pyle was the most widely read of all correspondents covering World War II. That is because Pyle wrote about the war from the soldiers’ perspective, outside, on the ground and in the trenches alongside them.

His columns appeared in more than 380 daily and weekly newspapers, and in the “Stars and Stripes,” the servicemen’s newspaper. Whenever Pyle came across a group of soldiers, he always introduced himself by saying: “Hi, I’m Ernie Pyle.” People back home eagerly awaited news from the battle zone as reported by Pyle because they knew they were getting the unvarnished truth about what it was like on the front.

In his one-person play “Hi, I’m Ernie Pyle,” Gary Morrison takes Pyle’s most hard-hitting, poignant, relevant and comical dispatches and presents them in a way Pyle would have if he were alive today; up close and personal.

He is not just reading Pyle’s dispatches, but relating them as if he is speaking to each audience member individually.

The play opens early in the afternoon of April 17, 1945, the day before Pyle is killed by a Japanese sniper’s bullet on the Island of Ie Shima. Pyle is seen at his typewriter on the ship the USS Panamint, pounding out a story about “some boys I’ve come to know since I’ve been in this war.” That afternoon he is visiting Ie Shima to meet with some Marines so he can write about them.

Pyle recognizes the presence of the audience, and because he has some time before leaving the ship, he invites them to stay as he tells of his involvement covering the war, beginning with the blitz of London — a full year before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. He then takes people through the war as seen through his eyes from the North African campaign, the invasions of Sicily, Italy, Normandy, the liberation of Paris, and finally the South Pacific.

Gary Morrison has performed “Hi, I’m Ernie Pyle” more than 25 times in the past six years for veterans and historical groups, senior citizen groups, libraries and holiday celebrations.

Pyle’s words are relevant to anyone who has been in any war. Vietnam and Gulf War veterans have said that unless they knew better, they would think the play was about their own experiences. The show triggers memories in World War II veterans who often say afterward how close the show is to things they actually experienced.

The show is performed by Gary W. Morrison, a retired freelance journalist and photographer who was born on April 18, 1945; the day Ernie Pyle was killed by a sniper's bullet on Ie Shima, a small island five miles off the coast of Okinawa. Gary earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from Grand Valley State University, Allendale, Michigan in 1996 at age 51 and a master's degree in communications from GVSU in 1998.

This program is free and open to all. For more information please call the library at 525-4411.

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