His legacy for me was one of congruence. For decades his reports on so many of the key events here and around the world turned out to be congruent with the eventual meaning we all took to be the core significance of the most important events. In both emotional tone and the facts, his reporting was in agreement and coincided with that of most of the rest of us.
As a kid from the country in Wyoming, I did not experience television until I moved to Texas as a nursing student in 1955. From my first black and white, small screen television viewing I was hooked. And I was always drawn to the hard news. Like millions of others I wanted to know what was happening. I has a curiosity and a need to know, so I always watched the evening news. My choices were NBC and CBS. NBC got on the list because that was the network that would come in on our radio growing up. But CBS quickly became a close second as I listened to Edward R. Murrow, and then watched, his weekly broadcast.
Walter Cronkite succeeded Murrow. The managing editor of his own program, he was trained as a print journalist and comfortable on camera, a dynamite combination. And we soon found that he could tell us what was happening in ways that were congruent, clear, unbiased, simple and believable.
It was Walter Cronkite who told me that John F. Kennedy was dead, and showed his own devastated feelings silently and without shame. He was openly angry when his news crewmen were roughed up on the floor of a Democratic Convention in the searing sixties. He went to Vietnam and said out loud the truth of that awful war. President Lyndon Johnson was convinced of the reality of his lost leadership by that broadcast. Walter Cronkite went to the moon's dusty surface with the astronauts with the rest of us. He gaged it as a most significant event for humankind. But he missed by just a few days the 40th anniversary celebration of the moon landing that will be coming up on Monday. I am moved by the congruence of that. Last night the new NASA administrator, Charles Bolden released a lovely and poetic tribute to Walter Cronkite, noting that it was Walter Cronkite who inspired him to want to become an astronaut so many years ago. And I am moved by the congruence of that, as well.
Walter Cronkite, according to a contemporary, was not happy about having to retire. But he did it without public complaint. Acclaimed by most everyone, he popped up every now and then until he was well up in years. He was a sailor and loved to have the wind at his back and the bow of his craft splitting the waves. He lost his beloved wife, Betsy a few years ago. He was one of a kind and I feel grateful that I was able to find much of my truth from his take on the significance of all those momentous life changing events.
[Post date - July 18, 2009]
Blogs: My general purpose/southwest focus blog is at Southwest Progressive. My creative website is at Making Good Mondays. And Carol Gee - Online Universe is the all-in-one home page for all my websites.