Knowing, remebering, forgetting about- Walter Cronkite
I have always been watching NBC nightly for the past 7 months, through iTunes’s podcast service.
It was not until today, as I connected my iPod to internet back from holiday that I got the news on the death of Mr. Cronkite. Also, the first time I learned his exact name in match with the face I’d previously only caught a glimpse on televtsions.
For America, he’s an icon. And that well explains why NBC nightly would use half of the program’s time to tell the stories of this great man who broadcasted WWII, denounced Vietname War and reported the landing on the Moon.
He loved his country and had a profound effect on it. He told us the truth in a plain-spoken manner. He never forgot that he was one of us, and yet we admired him so. That’s why I can’t help but fear that his loss means we’ve lost a tiny bit of who we are. He was a founding father of our profession. Others had done the job before him, and yet no one before or since has had just a mystical hold on the American people. He perfectly reflected his audience and our times. Watching Walter do what he did — better than anyone — was a formative experience. While he was deeply uncomfortable with overstatements of his own importance, those of us watching at home were so comfortable knowing he was in that chair during those years of great change and upheaval.
To use the terminology of his beloved sailboat, he was our national barometer, our compass and our rudder. With Walter at the helm of that broadcast, we knew we would sail through whatever crisis we faced as a country. He always seemed to point the wheel, with a gust of wind in his sails, toward our collective North Star.
On a personal note, Walter Cronkite was the man I grew up wanting to be. Our household, like many, came to a halt when his broadcast came on the air each night, and dinner was served only after he said good night. Knowing Walter was among the great blessings of my life.
* Quoted words are from Brian Williams, NBC nightly news.