I was very sad today to hear of the passing of Walter Cronkite. He was a fixture of my childhood, and his voice is ever etched in my memory.
I have one particular and very special memory of Walter Cronkite. It again involves his voice.
In April of 1980 my parents and I were gathered on a Saturday morning (if I am not mistaken) for my formal induction into Phi Beat Kappa. Walter Cronkite was to be the guest speaker, and we were all looking forward to that.
But when we got to the banquet hall and took our seats it was announced that Mr. Cronkite would not be able to attend. During the night, half way around the world, Operation Eagle Claw, President Carter's bold attempt to rescue the hostages in Iran, had ended in disaster in the Iranian desert and been aborted. We had heard about it on the news that morning. It was very sad for me as I liked President Carter and of course wanted to see the hostages freed as soon as possible.
So, as we all took our seats we received the news: Walter Cronkite had had to stay in Washington to cover the story. Someone else filled in, and that was fine, but what I especially remember is Cronkite's voice.
For Mr. Cronkite, despite the seriousness of the news that day, took the time to call in and speak to us all and apologize for his absence. There was a sad gravity to his voice, yet in that short call he took the opportunity to congratulate us all and wish us well in life.
I thought it was a classy thing to do.
We didn't get to see him, but we did get to hear him, and maybe on that sad day in our national history that was just what we most needed.