Walter Cronkite… R.I.P.

No one could quite give the news the way he did. It was so much more than just watching the evening news each night. We had an appointment with him, and you were never late. Every evening, my Grandmother instructed me to turn to the CBS Evening News around 5:25. This was when he would tell us what was going on in the world, what had happened that day. He truly was someone you felt you could trust. His nickname became “Uncle Walter” because you had a personal connection with him. As President Obama so fittingly put it, he was family.

As for me, I first became acquainted with this member of my family when I was 3 years old, during the resignation of Richard Nixon. My memories of that time are somewhat blurry. However, it was that sensible, calm voice and demeanor, spoken with authority, which stood out so clearly, as he led the country, step by step, through this shocking and defining moment. That was the beginning of my relationship with him. For the next 7 years, I remember watching him not just delivery the news, but explain it. I watched him during presidential conventions, debates, and elections. He delivered the news about the murder of John Lennon. He reminded us how many days the hostages had been held captive in Iran. It was his broadcast we watched at school when Ronald Reagan was sworn in as president in 1981. We had also watched him when Jimmy Carter took the oath of office 4 years earlier. There was something about his presence that caused me to look forward to watching him. In my family, you did not even THINK of turning to one of the other networks, even when he was on vacation. Just the very thought of doing so was equivalent to committing a crime, or a deadly sin. That was Walter’s time, and you DID NOT mess with it.

I was in the 4th grade when he stepped down as anchor of the CBS Evening News. Today, watching footage of him in his prime, doing what he did best, is heartwarming. To hear him say the date at the end of each broadcast, which he did every night, makes me smile and gives me chills now.  On a video I saw on YouTube, I heard him say Monday, December 5, 1977. As he put it- “that’s the way it is…”

Goodnight, Uncle Walter…


~ by kmnnz on July 18, 2009.

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