During much of my childhood, it seemed that the evening network news on television was 30 minutes of coverage of the Vietnam War. Actually several other subjects, commercials, etc., were included in those 30 minute broadcasts. But, my memory is of coverage of the Vietnam War, followed by Walter Cronkite stating "and that's the way it is." I trusted that he was telling it as it was, and I got the impression he didn't like it any better than I did.
Walter Cronkite passed away, yesterday, July 17, 2009. And, I will miss him, as I think much of the world will. He became the anchorperson of CBS's evening newscast in 1962 (when I was four years old), and his retirement came in 1981 (while I was a college student), according to numerous news stories about his life and death, including the ones
linked to here, and
here, as well
as here, and
As a child growing up, there were certainly days I did not watch the evening news with dad, and there were days dad watched it on another network, typically NBC. By the way, at least sometimes Cronkite seemed to make his closing remarks on the CBS newscast as few seconds earlier than NBC. As a child I thought the best part of the news was after Walter Cronkite said "And that's the way it is" when mom came in to change the channel to watch a particular game show, and I heard NBC's co-anchors David Brinkley and Chet Huntley say good night to each other. I thought at times that it would be nice to watch their news since it might be good news like their good night comments at the end. But, on the evenings dad watched their broadcast I think their Vietnam War coverage was similar. Television and newspaper coverage of the Vietnam War may be one reason I am a basically a pacifist now.
I actually got the opportunity to very briefly meet Walter Cronkite once in June of either 1998 or 1999 on a trip to New York City. As I was walking along a sidewalk in Manhattan one evening, a car (possibly a taxi, I'm not sure now) suddenly pulled up to the curb in front of a hotel, then a lady quickly got out and ran inside the hotel. Surprised by the sudden appearance of the car and the lady's quick movement, I stopped walking and looked at the vehicle. As I was doing so, a man got out of the other side of the car and came around toward the hotel. As he did I looked closely at him and realized it was Walter Cronkite. Very surprised and somewhat in shock, I smiled and said "Good evening Mr. Cronkite." As he walked toward the hotel I think he replied "good evening." However, I was so in awe of the fact that I had seen and spoken to a man who to me was almost a living legend that I don't remember for sure. Seeing him was a highlight of my trip.
Obviously, Walter Cronkite's evening newscasts only covered certain news and certain views, as all news does. But, Walter Cronkite seemed like a friendly, trustworthy, grandfatherly sort of person as he broadcast the news. And as I recall he seemed to especially enjoy covering the Apollo space flights. Part of my joy in watching the Apollo mission telecasts was seeing the childlike enthusiasm of Cronkite. And yes, I even fondly remember seeing educational films in school narrated by him – I don't remember the content of them now, just that the news celebrity Cronkite narrated them.
Walter Cronkite was a liberal on many issues according to news reports in recent years, based on his public comments and actions after retiring as a news anchor, apparently supporting legalized abortion for example. But, when he was the CBS news anchor, he seemed to me to just be Walter Cronkite.
I would like to quote a comment he made during a speech he gave (that was reprinted in a journal) at a convention and another statement he made in an article for a magazine, but both predate the computer search engine era, so I could not find either of them in a quick online search. Maybe at some point I will add them or write another article.
Walter Cronkite has passed on. To quote his words: "And that's the way it is."
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