When I was growing up I heard a lot about how television was unhealthy, and how Americans were addicted to the "boob box." But to be fair, my parents came of age in the earliest days of television, and began their adulthood as it took hold of the nation. And with the passing, last night, of the giant Walter Cronkite, I have to say I am astonished less that people are reluctant to turn it off and more that they turn it off at all.
Because Walter Cronkite guided us through some absolutely astonishing moments. If we think about what has happened live, on television in the last 20, 30, 40 years... why would anyone turn the thing off? They shot two presidents before our eyes; shot the people who shot the first one; shot his brother, shot MLK. They landed on the moon; they lost a shuttle; they brought Apollo 13 home safe. War came to our living rooms. Roots came, too, and a generation (my own) of young people watched a mini-series that drove the horror of slavery home hard. Our elections happen live. Our nation grieves in unison. The New York skyline fell and was forever changed-- as were we-- before a nation's stunned gaze.
People in my own age group will remember Mister Cronkite. We were only children, true, but the evening news was always on in every house then. There was Harry Reasoner, David Brinkley, and Walter Cronkite, who was the first national anchorman. He broke the news of JFK's death to my parents. And when a 4 year old in Green Harbor was outraged that she wasn't going to get to see Bullwinkle, he changed her mind about what was important. Some guys named Buzz and Neal landed on the moon. No really... the moon. So Bullwinkle could wait. Even at 4 I got it.
Rest in the arms of the angels, Walter. And thank you for telling us how it was.