August 3, 1900 is the birthday of Pulitzer-prize winning war correspondent, Ernie Pyle. Born in Indiana, Pyle got caught up in the patriotic fervor of World War I, but armistice was declared before the end of his training. He went on to the University of Indiana, not quite completing a degree in journalism in favor of taking a job writing for Scripp’s. After reporting cross-country, Pyle went to Britain in 1940 to begin reporting on the Battle of Britain; his columns ended up in some 400 daily and 300 weekly newspapers. On April 18, 1945, troops and civilians alike were saddened to hear that the reporter was killed by sniper fire in an ambush on le Shima, an island just west of Okinawa. On the occasion of his death, John Steinbeck, a personal friend of Pyle’s, had this to say: “There are really two wars and they haven’t much to do with each other. There is the war of maps and logistics, of campaigns, of ballistics, armies, divisions and regiments–and that is General [George] Marshall’s war. “Then there is the war of the homesick, weary, funny, violent, common men who wash their socks in their helmets, complain about the food, whistle at the Arab girls, or any girls for that matter, and bring themselves through as dirty a business as the world has ever seen and do it with humor and dignity and courage–and that is Ernie Pyle’s war.”
60 years ago, on August 15, 1939, The Wizard of Oz premiered in Hollywood. It eventually became one of America’s best-loved musicals, and launched the career of cultural icon Judy Garland. The film also won two Oscars for its original score and its original song, “Over the Rainbow.”
On August 28, 1922, the first radio advertisement was broadcast on station WEAF, New York. The ten-minute long live commercial was for the Queensboro real estate corporation, and represented a significant step in the journey of radio as a medium and a business.