World War II correspondent and proud son of Dana, Indiana, Ernie Pyle, wrote some of the most memorable stories of the London Blitz and the D-Day invasion. In June 2020, I will be hosting an IU Alumni Association trip to England and France, to see the places that played such an important part in the war and in Pyle's writing.
In the Footsteps of Ernie Pyle is based on our popular IU Journalism & Media School course and is one of my favorite experiences as a professor and broadcast journalist. Here are some highlights of the trip with pictures I took on previous visits.
Images: St. Bride's Church; Imperial War Museum; St. Paul's Cathedral & Thames River, all in London.
We start with three days in London. As a group, we'll tour St. Bride's Church, known as the journalists' church, designed by Christopher Wren. We'll also spend time in the Imperial War Museum and the Inns of Court. You will have a chance to see a play at the Shakespeare Globe Theater, tour St. Paul's Cathedral, tour the Tower of London, and any other sites we can fit into our time in London.
Images: Ferry across the English Channel from Portsmouth, England to Caen, France.
From London, we travel south to Portsmouth and then take a ferry across the English Channel to Normandy.
Images: Along Normandy Coast, including Pointe du Hoc, Arromanches, and the American Cemetery.
During our student trips, the most moving and emotional day has always been when we are touring the Normandy Coast. When you first see the cliffs that the Allied forces had to scale just after getting off the boats, you become very aware of just how dangerous the invasion was on those days in 1944, and described so eloquently by Ernie Pyle. The sea of white grave markers at the cemeteries along the coast are also a reminder of how many lives were lost to gain a foothold on the mainland of Europe.
Images: Mont-Saint-Michel, France
We can't leave Normandy without visiting the famous UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mont-Saint-Michel, near the border of Normandy and Brittany. Depending on the tides, Mont-Saint-Michel is a rocky island or part of the mainland. The Benedictine abbey was built between the 11th and 16th centuries and the narrow streets on the island are filled with interesting shops and restaurants.
Images of Paris: Notre Dame, Seine River, Louvre, Montmartre, Sacre-Coeur, Les Invalides
Our final destination is Paris. We'll move back in time a bit for a tour of the World War I battlefield at Somme, as well a visit to Versailles and the Louvre. You'll also have time to take in other Paris sites, including the Eiffel Tower, Sacre-Coeur, and the Seine River.
The trip will run from June 18-29, 2020. For more details and a brochure, go to the IU Alumni Association site for the Footsteps of Ernie Pyle tour.