Remembering Uncle Walter

The news that Walter Cronkite died tonight at 92 comes just three days before the 40th anniversary of the first moonwalk, so compellingly narrated by the CBS anchor.

In my memory, the moon was full that July 20, 1969, night when Cronkite described Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin's steps, saying, "Look at those pictures, wow!"

That sent me outside to a suburban street in Cupertino, Calif., where my 9-year-old eyes gazed at a marvel made real because Cronkite told us so. Later, as conspiracy theorists claimed the moonwalk was staged, I joined most other Americans in balking at the notion Cronkite could be fooled.

Cronkite had more influence than anyone on my decision to pursue journalism. He stood for truth, toughness and love of country, convincing me that helping make the 1st Amendment live was a noble calling.

Later, in Cronkite's final year as anchor of the CBS Evening News, I met him. I was in the master's journalism program at Columbia University in New York and Cronkite attended a reception for students.

Shaking this icon's hand, I could hardly breathe. But he made me feel like I was as important as any of the big shots in the room. He was interested, it seemed to me, because he cared about the future of the craft of journalism.

Godspeed, Uncle Walter. You were a giant who inspired a kid to try to reach your standard of "That's the way it is."

Walter Cronkite

The closest I ever got to someone like Mr. Conkrite was the privilege of talking on the phone to Fred Friendly (Edward R. Murrow's 'producer') while he was teaching Journalism at Columbia University. Impressive. I will always cherish moments like those. Professional, reasonable, intelligent and decent people. I'm certain they are rolling in their graves over the likes of Hannity, Dobbs, and maybe even Olbermann.

These 'newspeople' need to just refer to their programs as what they are: Opinion Shows. News is facts. Not drama, editorializing or screaming. It seems the 'professionals' (both local and national) and the majority of the American public has forgotten that.

RIP Mr. Cronkite.