Friday, July 17, 2009

Walter has gone...

Tonight I worked a simulation mission at the Christa MacAuliffe Space Education Center for a group of adults celebrating one their member's birthday (turns out it was the production crew for the movie "Napoleon Dynamite"!). After all that fun, I returned home to catch up on STS-127 news only to hear some sad news.

Walter Cronkite has passed away.

For those of you too young to know him, Walter was the premier news anchor of CBS during the early years of the space program. Yes, there were other news reporters and anchors who covered the program just as well (and some might say Jules Bergman might have been the best), but Walter was the guy to watch during the important events. Cronkite was the voice of commentary during the tense moments of the landing on the Moon, and the subsequent moonwalks. His was the voice and face keeping America glued to their seats in front of the tube during the dangerous return of Apollo 13. Covering all the Apollo era, his is the face and voice I remember most during those exciting times. 

Also, he was the anchor we often remember during the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy as well as Martin Luther King, Jr. In fact, I found out he was considered to be the ultimate anchorman, so much so that Swedish news anchors are called "Kronkiters."

It was an editorial series by Cronkite during the Tet Offensive in the Vietnam War, that helped swing public and congressional opinion toward abandoning the war effort and ending support for South Vietnam. 

Most people did not know this, but Walter was one of those brave men reporting on WW2, who even reported from the front. He reported from London during the Battle of Britain, flew on a bombing mission over Germany, and landed in a glider with the 101st Airborne division during Operation Market-Garden. He also covered the Nuremburg war crimes trials.

As Cronkite became more and more political, I did not always agree with his point of view or style but he was always the "voice of authority" to the American public. I will always look back on his time with the space program with fondness and nostalgia.

Walter was 92. 

"...and that's the way it is..."

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