Friday, July 17, 2009

Death of a Hero

Blogger's note: This marks the first death of one of my "Green Heroes". I've been publishing this blog for 3 and a half years now and had compiled a list of living people who I consider to be heroes of the stated values on which Green Prudence is based. Walter Cronkite reflected the best of those values. With his passing, I am now considering changing the focus of my energy. No, I don't value my efforts of the past few years any less. But for every time there is a season, and the long season of this blog is nearing its end as a new season approaches. I can't quite see what that new season will bring yet, but I feel the times they are a'changing. I feel that I accomplished what I set out to do and I am satisfied, just as I imagine Mr. Cronkite was satisfied with all that he accomplished. The archives of Green Prudence will remain for all to reference... there is much of value stored in these pages. I encourage you all to peruse the "record of gathered information" and "green perspectives on the state of the world" since February of 2006. I will likely return from time to time to add a few morsels. ~Kurt

by Douglas Martin
The New York Times
July 17, 2009

Walter Cronkite, who pioneered and then mastered the role of television news anchorman with such plain-spoken grace that he was called the most trusted man in America, died Friday, his family said. He was 92.

From 1962 to 1981, Mr. Cronkite was a nightly presence in American homes and always a reassuring one, guiding viewers through national triumphs and tragedies alike, from moonwalks to war, in an era when network news was central to many people’s lives.

He became something of a national institution, with an unflappable delivery, a distinctively avuncular voice and a daily benediction: “And that’s the way it is.” He was Uncle Walter to many: respected, liked and listened to. With his trimmed mustache and calm manner, he even bore a resemblance to another trusted American fixture, another Walter — Walt Disney.

Along with Chet Huntley and David Brinkley on NBC, Mr. Cronkite was among the first celebrity anchormen. In 1995, 14 years after he retired from the “CBS Evening News,” a TV Guide poll ranked him No. 1 in seven of eight categories for measuring television journalists. (He professed incomprehension that Maria Shriver beat him out in the eighth category, attractiveness.) He was so widely known that in Sweden anchormen were once called Cronkiters.

Yet he was a reluctant star. He was genuinely perplexed when people rushed to see him rather than the politicians he was covering, and even more astonished by the repeated suggestions that he run for office himself. He saw himself as an old-fashioned newsman — his title was managing editor of the “CBS Evening News” — and so did his audience.

“The viewers could more readily picture Walter Cronkite jumping into a car to cover a 10-alarm fire than they could visualize him doing cerebral commentary on a great summit meeting in Geneva,” David Halberstam wrote in “The Powers That Be,” his 1979 book about the news media.

As anchorman and reporter, Mr. Cronkite described wars, natural disasters, nuclear explosions, social upheavals and space flights, from Alan Shepard’s historic 15-minute ride to lunar landings. On July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon, Mr. Cronkite exclaimed, “Oh, boy!”

On the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, Mr. Cronkite briefly lost his composure in announcing that the president had been pronounced dead at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas. Taking off his black-framed glasses and wiping away a tear, he registered the emotions of millions.

It was an uncharacteristically personal note from a newsman who was uncomfortable expressing opinion.

“I am a news presenter, a news broadcaster, an anchorman, a managing editor — not a commentator or analyst,” he said in an interview with The Christian Science Monitor in 1973. “I feel no compulsion to be a pundit.”

But when he did pronounce judgment, the impact was large.

In 1968 he visited Vietnam and returned to do a rare special program on the war. He called the conflict a stalemate and advocated a negotiated peace. President Lyndon B. Johnson watched the broadcast, Mr. Cronkite wrote in his 1996 memoir, “A Reporter’s Life,” quoting a description of the scene by Bill Moyers, then a Johnson aide.

“The president flipped off the set,” Mr. Moyers recalled, “and said, ‘If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost middle America.’”

Mr. Cronkite sometimes pushed beyond the usual two-minute limit to news items. On Oct. 27, 1972, his 14-minute report on Watergate, followed by an eight-minute segment four days later, “put the Watergate story clearly and substantially before millions of Americans” for the first time, the broadcast historian Marvin Barrett wrote in “Moments of Truth?” (1975).

Mr. Cronkite began: “Watergate has escalated into charges of a high-level campaign of political sabotage and espionage apparently unparalleled in American history.”

In 1977, his separate interviews with President Anwar al-Sadat of Egypt and Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel were instrumental in Sadat’s visiting Jerusalem. The countries later signed a peace treaty.

“From his earliest days,” Mr. Halberstam wrote, “he was one of the hungriest reporters around, wildly competitive, no one was going to beat Walter Cronkite on a story, and as he grew older and more successful, the marvel of it was that he never changed, the wild fires still burned.”

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

3 Comments:

Anonymous Westport Shades said...

No wonder Mr. Conkrite was tagged as the most honest man in America.Even Presidents, country leaders are in awe of him. To be able to assist in a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt is an outstanding accomplishment. It is truly America's loss with him gone.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011 3:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Deerfield Shades said...

He really is an honest man.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011 3:38:00 PM  
Anonymous geo targeted seo said...

death is always a sad part, but this is where we also honor the life that has passed.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011 9:50:00 AM  

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