Walter Cronkite’s 92 years spanned most of the important events of the 20th century. In fact that was the name of a program he hosted (as though the century were “brought to you” by Cronkite). And it sort of was. From World War II to Reagan he was on the scene to so great an extent that he would seem to blend in and become part of the story. He covered the Kennedy assassination, his image indelibly ingrained as a part of the history of that day and weekend. The space program, where we all expected him to go up one day. Vietnam, when he, after observing the war and traveling overseas several times, finally came to understand the nightmarish stupidity of the war, and then in a highly moral and political move, publicly denounced it. This was, to me, a very high level of courage that we seldom see in places of power.
Here’s my encounter with him; two years ago in Austin, doing a story for Texas Monthly. Extremely hard of hearing, he needed an assistant to repeat everything to him. He seemed to me to be fully in charge of himself…and had a killer handshake. He was a guest at a Texas arts celebration. Later I saw him in the well of the Senate, as painted here, being honored by the entire body. And none more overwhelmed by his presence than a hard-right talk-show host/state senator, Dan Patrick. Walter Cronkite’s achievements crossed all lines. He was the most trusted guy in America. And who knows; maybe he really did blast off at last. That’s an obit cartoon idea for somebody.