good-bye, Uncle Walter.

news broke this evening that Walter Cronkite had passed away.

my generation is probably the last to have “first-person” memories of Uncle Walter – i was six years old when he retired as anchor of the CBS Evening News, and since then i’ve been exposed to recordings of his other historic broadcasts – whether the moon landings or the Kennedy assassination, Walter Cronkite is the voice i hear in my head.

growing up in a journalist’s household, i was inculcated with a general respect for the older generation of newsmen, and Cronkite in particular. he was the person who came into our home every evening, anyway.

launched in 1984, NASA had a “Teacher in Space” project – but what many people are unaware of is there was a paralell “Journalist in Space” program as well. my mother was one of 1,033 applicants for the spot – and when she heard Cronkite had also applied, her reaction was, “If Uncle Walter wants to go, they should let him go.”

now, as an adult, i am in awe of his accomplishments: landing (as an embed) with the 101st during Operation Market-Garden, covering the Nuremberg trials, reporting on the Kennedy assassination, his marathon Apollo 11 coverage, Apollo 13, Vietnam, Watergate, the 1968 Democratic Convention – all events that he made accessible and understandable to middle America.

but the respect my mother had for him will always most shape my memories.

good-bye, Uncle Walter.

quote of the day:

“And that’s the way it is… This is Walter Cronkite, CBS News; good night.”

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