Remembering Walter Cronkite
“The Father of Television News”
He became a routine part of millions of American’s daily lives. He was invited into our home’s each evening, to give us a chronicle of the day’s events. He was in fact: “the most trusted man in America.”
Steeped rich in the history of the 20th Century, you’d find him in such places as Presidential Elections, a Presidential Resignation, Moon Shots, and the jungles of Vietnam. As the bloody war unfolded each evening in our living room, he became a spokesman for the common man, and the ordinary citizen.
Most of us will remember that fateful day: November 22, 1963, when he told us: “From Dallas, Texas, the flash, apparently official: (reading AP flash) “President Kennedy died at 1 p.m. Central Standard Time.” (glancing up at clock) 2o’clock Eastern Standard Time, some 38 minutes ago.”
The world stood still. The image of an unflappable man at the brink of tears, is firmly etched in the memories of those who shared this tragic event. He would stay on the air for 4 days, as he and the rest of America mourned.
During his tenure as anchorman for CBS News, he could not hide his enthusiasm for the Space Programme. You could see a visible “sigh of relief” on his face, when man first landed on the Moon, nearly 40 years ago this very day. He was a significant part of America’s sojourn to Space and the Moon.
His enthusiasm would ignite my interest in the “Space Race.” I’ve been an avid follower since the early “Mercury” missions of the 1960’s.
In his retirement, he received the “Presidential Medal of Freedom” (the highest Civilian award) from former President, Jimmy Carter.
At the age of 65 then mandatory retirement, he announced solemnly on a Friday evening March 6, 1981:
”This is my last broadcast as the anchorman of The CBS Evening News; for me, it’s a moment for which I long have planned, but which, nevertheless, comes with some sadness. For almost two decades, after all, we’ve been meeting like this in the evenings, and I’ll miss that. But those who have made anything of this departure, I’m afraid have made too much. This is but a transition, a passing of the baton. A great broadcaster and gentleman, Doug Edwards, preceded me in this job, and another, Dan Rather, will follow…Old anchormen, you see, don’t fade away; they just keep coming back for more. And that’s the way it is: Friday, March 6, 1981.”
So long Walter Leland Cronkite.
Thank you for giving us a rich heritage and a playing a dynamic part of our lives and memories. Rest in Peace, “Uncle Walt.”
Original Copy by,
July 17, 2009
Note: As some of you know, I’ve written several “obit” pieces over the years. It started in 2000, when “old friend” Rod Page died suddenly. I was the only person who had interviewed Rod, and had important biographical information, on his life. As I sat down at my computer and reviewed my notes, I was overwhelmed with a flood of memories. I had the task of distilling Rod’s life, in a few paragraphs and in a few hours, for the press.
As time marched on, I would write more pieces. (see “Sojourn’s End” — a tribute to Charles Kuralt — elsewhere in NOTES.) I do this not to be morbid; rather as a tribute to the great men and women who have touched my soul.
And that’s the way it is….