Friday, July 17, 2009

The Most Trusted Man In America


Walter Cronkite died today…

As a young girl I would imagine that my real parents were coming to get me at any moment. I couldn’t possibly belong to the wolves I was being raised by. My imaginary Moms alternated from Colleen Dewhurst to Rosalind Russell or Maureen Stapleton.

My imaginary father was always Walter Cronkite.

He had a kind face. I loved the way his eyes crinkled when he smiled. His voice was deep, yet gentle. And he was wise. A wise gentle man.

From 1962 to 1981 Walter Cronkite delivered to the nation the nightly news. He was always calm and informative. His face never betrayed a personal feeling or opinion. His job was to give us the facts, and he did.

It was only while announcing the death of President Kennedy that Mr. Cronkite let emotion creep in. I was in grammar school when John Kennedy died yet I vividly remember Mr. Cronkite’s voice cracking as he removed his glasses and wiped away a tear as he looked at the newsroom clock and announced that our President had died.

From as early as I can remember I was interested in politics and world affairs and current events. I feel honored to have been able to receive my news from Mr. Cronkite. I wish our children had someone like that to experience the world’s events through.

The legend of Walter Cronkite will never come our way again. Even in the best of all possible newscasts he is impossible to replace.

This excerpt from his online bio sums it up for me …

Cronkite raised television news broad casting to a level of professionalism that was praised around the world. His qualifications as a newspaperman and war correspondent, along with his unwillingness to stray from a hard news format that dealt only with important events and their facts, demonstrated that acceptance and popularity in television news need not rest on covering trivial topics. Walter Cronkite continues to be admired by both his colleagues and by his audience. For many people he is the example of what a broadcast journalist should be.

In a sea of weeping and wailing buffoons. In a rat’s nest of snarking and snarling heads. In a pit of destructive and hateful circus performers... Amen to that …

I believe I got my hunger for always knowing the whole story from watching Walter Cronkite. I believe I got my curiosity about far away places and people vastly different from me from Walter Cronkite. I know I got my insistence on presenting things in their full context from Walter Cronkite – and for that I am deeply grateful.

I am also grateful to have had the opportunity to watch Mr. Cronkite deliver the news with my son beside me. Although he was very young I remember Jeffrey saying that Mr. Cronkite made him feel “smarter”, and gave him a sense that “the world will be OK”

Peaceful journey Mr. Cronkite …

19 comments:

Thom said...

Bravo my friend. You said what millions of us I am sure are feeling now. If I recall he got emotional during the Apollo 11 mission as well. He will never be replaced. Hard news and facts. Rest in peace Walter Cronkite. And that's the way it is .,,

Linda said...

Oh my, what an awesome post. Beautiful. I hope you don't mind if I link it to my blog. So many of us loved Walter Cronkite.

Jeni said...

Amen, to that last line, Dianne.
Now here was a man who was truly an ICON of the nth degree. I wonder though how many people will mourn his passing the way so many did another recent death though.
I will always remember Mr. Cronkite and for the same reasons as you listed in your post. He always seemed to me to be a good, just and honest individual. Wish there were more -a LOT more of his caliber around.

Grayquill said...

Well written and a nice tribute.
You did good!

Dianne said...

thom - he did! I just saw a clip of him during the landing and he was like a young boy - excited at the marvel of it all
how amazing and fitting that he moves on during the anniversary weekend of that event
he also got emotional and angry toward the end of the Viet Nam war - but he still told the world it was his opinion
LBJ is quoted as saying - "if I lost Walter Cronkite then I lost the war"

linda - I am honored, thank you

jeni - Walter Cronkite would never want a circus associated with his death - or life - it is yet another sign of how journalism has changed

grayquill - I appreciate that, thank you

the walking man said...

and that's the way it was...and never will be again

Granny Annie said...

I did not know of Walter Cronkite's death until I opened your post. I read your tribute with tears in my eyes because he was an icon and should be remembered. Your tribute is exceptional.

bobbie said...

This was a gentleman in the truest sense, and a true journalist.

Are there any left today?

Thank you for this post, Dianne.

Arkansas Patti said...

Well done tribute. I have never heard a bad word about that man. He was respected by all.

Queen-Size funny bone said...

It saddens me because who will our kids have for the future that adds a sense of security in reporting.

Raven said...

Beautifully said. I so miss news that's news and the dignity and integrity of Mr. Cronkite. Good choice for a real father.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

All that you say, I echo too, Dianne...He was a part of a precious few true Broadcasters....Like Edward R. Murrow, who you are too young to remember--But these men had integrity and a belief that The News of The World was what was important---this included, of course, the Domestic NEWS! These men came up, as they say, during Radio--before Television! And they were true reporters and they kept us informed in a way that just doesn't exist anymore. I loved Walter Cronkite, as you and so very many other people did, and remember as you do, that moment when his emotions crept through because what he was reporting was so horrific and heartfelt, too. And, in fact, our country changed that day, forever---never to go back to that more innocent time, or what we thought was a more innocent time.

Beautiful tribute Dianne....really Beautiful.

I love your choices of your possible 'real' mother...Maureen Stapleton, the most wonderfully talented crazy funny and loving of people...! Colleen Dewhurst----Great! And Rosalind Russell. ALL terrific actresses! I'm dying to know if you ever saw Maureen on the stage...? And if so, in what plays, my dear....and Colleen D. Too....

Matt-Man said...

Walter was the man and I often wanted to have sex with him. Cheers Di!!

maryt/theteach said...

That's when news was respected and so were the newsmen/women! :)

Travis said...

Mr Cronkite told the truth based on the facts. He gave us the news of the day without bias or personal agenda. His agenda was to impart the facts.

A true newsman, and journalist.

SnoopMurph said...

I absolutely remember my mom watching the news every night around dinnertime and watching Mr. Cronkite each and every night. He certainly was the consummate newsman and unfortunately, I don't think there is anyone that has reached his caliber to date. May he enjoy his next journey.

Daryl said...

Having been away at a blogfest which ironically had no wireless connectivity .. I have a lot to catch up on .. HOWEVER .. I didnt hear about Mr Cronkite's passing and it saddened me deeply...

Deborah Godin said...

Loved your summation of this much trusted and admired journalist. I'm of the Cronkite news generation, too, and coudl only shake my head watching the tributes to him and old clips of his broadcasts, shake my head at how far we've strayed in this new 24-hours news age, with our spin, shock, and fact-checkers.

Bond said...

He was our window to the world and a man who innovated the way the news was produced.