"WHEN FASCISM COMES TO AMERICA IT WILL BE WRAPPED IN THE FLAG
AND CARRYING A CROSS." -SINCLAIR LEWIS

Saturday, July 18, 2009

RIP, Walter Cronkite

An American news legend passed away last night:

(CBS) The "most trusted man in America" is gone.

Walter Cronkite, who personified television journalism for more than a generation as anchor and managing editor of the "CBS Evening News," has died. CBS vice president Linda Mason says Cronkite died at 7:42 p.m. Friday with his family by his side at his home in New York after a long illness. He was 92.

Known for his steady and straightforward delivery, his trim moustache, and his iconic sign-off line -"That’s the way it is" - Cronkite dominated the television news industry during one of the most volatile periods of American history. He broke the news of the Kennedy assassination, reported extensively on Vietnam and Civil Rights and Watergate, and seemed to be the very embodiment of TV journalism.
To be completely honest, I've never really felt a connection or even much of an affiliation with Cronkite. He was simply too far removed from me generationally. If my grandparents were alive today they'd probably have some heartfelt sentiments to share about the man and what he meant to their generation but for someone who's grown up engulfed in the cacophony of the 24-hour news cycle which has now been subsequently engulfed within the vast, global maw of the Internet old time newsmen like Cronkite are just very difficult to relate to for people from my generation.

So you're probably now asking, "Why the 'RIP' post, JBW? Folks die all the time and you rarely take the time to honor them unless you seem to have had a real personal affinity for them." That's true, and even the traditionally ubiquitous "RIP" undermines my own atheistic beliefs. I don't really believe that Cronkite is "resting in peace", I just believe that he's dead and gone. I don't believe that he's singing in a cloud choir anymore than I believe that he's roasting in a lake of fire. He's simply deceased. But when he was alive he, a famous orator known for his pithy take on events of incredible historical significance, was rendered virtually speechless when mankind finally set foot upon another world beyond our own:


And that's why I'll always feel a kinship towards the man. Because I share that childlike awe that the human species was able to accomplish such an extraordinary feat, even though it happened half a decade before my own birth. When I watch a speechless Walter Cronkite remove his glasses and wipe his face in obvious wonder at the scientific achievements of mankind I share that same wonder, and I like to think that people like myself are keeping it alive now that he's passed on.

10 comments:

Tim said...

For the first 20 years of my life, this guy was there every step of the way. There was nothing more comforting to know that he was on every night to report the news. He is one of my first true heroes in life. Sure, he was a bit of a liberal. It just makes all the more sense to me, that you could report the news honestly and without bias. He is a true legend, and worth YouTubing for his finest moments. When he retired, the news did too a little bit.

ex DLB said...

The passion he had for his chosen role in life is what made him, and anyone else so imbued, special. He seemed to be born to fill the part he played.

Parsley's Pics said...

Being the grandmammy of the bunch, I can remember so much of Cronkite - not only his nightly newscasts, his once a week documentaries (I think I was about the only only HS kid who couldn't wait to see them), his coverage of the '68 convention, the space programs, and the assassinations of JFK, MLK and RFK.

I also remember the day the news broke about Clinton and Lewinsky. I was outraged at the media's sensationalist approach. I couldn't help but wonder how Cronkite and other professional journalists would have handled it.

Nice post, "BR."

JBW said...

Wow, I almost didn't post about this because I wasn't sure how interested others would be. I guess it really is a generational thing. Glad you older folks approve.

Parsley's Pics said...

Well, I'm getting old paople's disease and can remember the past better than what happened yesterday - except for Sarah Palin.

JBW said...

No shame in that, PP. Although I do take a minor exception with you calling me "BR". I only identify you as "PP" because that's the online handle you've chosen for yourself, your blog's own name notwithstanding. Just saying, Mom...

Parsley's Pics said...

Okay, JBW. Sorry - I'll try to remember.

JBW said...

That was more the Chardonnay talking than me PP, and it also was only half serious. By the way, you can change your commenting signature to "Leslie" or anything else you want by adjusting your Blogspot profile. Also just saying...

Parsley's Pics said...

Thanks, sweetie. Just pass me the Chardonnay.

Shannon said...

Love that moment of him being speechless. I wish that I could have been alive when we landed on the moon. I also like the way you speak about it with such scientific reverence.