On Friday, July 17th, the news of Walter Cronkite's death caused the world to pause and bow its head in remembrance of the legendary journalist's legacy. Cronkite's imprint on, not only American but world journalistic integrity, is profound, his honest, forthright manner and trustworthy reporting style paving the way for the plethora of news stations that populate today's airwaves. From World War II to the Lunar Landing to Kennedy's assassination and Nixon's demise during Watergate, millions of Americans gathered around their television stations, night after night, to absorb the reports delivered by Walter Cronkite on the evening news. Even at age 92, decades after his retirement from delivering the world news, he was still the "most trusted man in America", his name spoken by every industry professional with the utmost respect and honor. President Obama has described him as the voice of certainty in an uncertain world. Now, that that voice has said its final goodnight, the void left by its departure is resounding and profound.
My first introduction to the legacy of Walter Cronkite came when I was still very young. The year was 1982 when I was five years old. My mother and I were shopping in a local grocery store in Austin, Texas when all of a sudden she paused and took my hand. In the aisle before us was an old man, casually browsing the cereal isle. I was still too young to truly recognize him, but I remember looking up at her, a politically impassioned woman throughout her life, and wondering at the look of star-struck awe upon her features. I asked her who he was and she replied in a whisper, "Honey, that's Walter Cronkite! He is the most famous journalist in the world." I watched as she timidly approached him, stuttering words of gratitude for his long years of reporting as if she were meeting the President or perhaps an idolized rock star. That moment left an irreversible impression upon my young mind, inspiring me, even at that young age. At that time I began to truly understand what it meant to be a journalist and the extent to which the impact of one's ability to communicate with the world could reach. It was a profession to treat with dignity, one to be taken seriously and done to the best of one's ability, always.
No one was able to better teach us that lesson than Walter Cronkite and few will possess his ability ever again. We bid farewell to Walter Cronkite today. He will be forever missed by he world and always will he remain the "most trusted" figure in the world of journalism.