I've spent a good portion of this week lost in remembrances of the Apollo 11 rocket launch, the lunar module touching down on the moon's surface, and Neil Armstrong's first step (for man) on the moon.
On this most historic date in history, July 20, 1969, I was seven years old. But I remember this momentous occasion like it was yesterday. And the voice I've been hearing in my head all week recounting this monumental moment is that of Walter Cronkite.
Yesterday we lost a true National Treasure. In this year of great losses in the entertainment and news industries, Walter Cronkite's passing is the one that touches me deeper than most others...even more so than Michael Jackson. Walter Cronkite was a daily staple in our home when I was growing up and when I moved out on my own, he remained a staple of my daily life until his retirement in 1981. Life just wasn't normal if I didn't have his face and voice reporting to me the days news every evening during supper time.
Walter Cronkite is a true icon of Gen X'ers and those of us old enough to remember his reporting during the days of just 3 networks and black and white TV no doubtedly will feel the loss of such an important figure of our era.
Even though Mr. Cronkite retired from daily television news reporting some 28 years ago, he has remained the standard by which even today's up and coming news reporters and journalists of all kinds aspire to, but none seem to ever achieve. Lyndon Johnson said towards the end of his presidency, "If I've lost Walter Cronkite, I've lost middle America". And that was a true statement in every sense. He had the ears and pulse of the nation as a whole as the most trusted man in America and had great influence over nations and political leaders the world over. I don't think we'll ever hear president Obama saying "If I've lost Rachel Maddow.. Katie Couric...Brian Williams, I've lost middle America. "
No one in the world of television news today has the vision, the fortitude, the forthrightness, the no non-sense manner, nor the honesty by which Walter Cronkite came to us every day. And I think he has no doubtedly been sorely disappointed...and disgusted by the turn television news has taken in the last few years.
There's no one in television reporting today I watch with any regularity because of the lack of appeal and the insincerity most journalists deliver on a daily basis. I still subscribe to the old school ways the news should be - honest and to the point.
When Walter Cronkite spent 27 straight hours on the air to report the very first man on the moon in 1969, my family was there every minute with him. When Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon, it was the only time in his career Mr. Cronkite was speechless. I was too young to remember the assassination of John F. Kennedy - 19 months old at the time. But I do remember when Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy were murdered...and Walter Cronkite was the voice of those historically somber occasions also. He took us through the Vietnam war, the Energy Crisis in the mid 70's, The Three Mile Island disaster, the Iran Crisis, and the election of president Ronald Reagan...his last of very many political and election coverages dating from WWII.
He covered thousands of stories, in hundreds of countries, reaching millions of people in a career spanning more than seven decades. No one will ever top what he has done, in the way he did it, in the time he did it. Just like there will never be another Michael Jackson, there will never be another Walter Cronkite.
"And THAT'S the it was".
Rest In Peace Walter.