Treading Near Greatness: A Tribute To Walter Cronkite

Honor Warren Wells TheTorch@dbintayaelSenior Writer IIJuly 21, 2009

The lightning flashed. An idea popped up in my mind. The thunder began to roar. It hit me—BAM!  I am sitting in a place that was trod by the great Walter Cronkite.

I immediately emailed Leroy Watson, who has mentored me on B/R, and who is very discerning. I wrote:

"Look at how near to excellence we sometimes tread..... Walter Cronkite is represented in the museum at the college where I teach, located at Holman Street in Houston, Texas.

"The museum occupies a room on the second floor of the San Jacinto Building of the Houston Community College, Central Campus. Many years ago (I have taught at Central College for about 21 years), I noticed the names of Walter Cronkite and other great people who attended the then San Jacinto High School.

"Sometimes some very dedicated alumni come and monitor the facility to make certain the museum is in order. We have lost a great communicator/journalist. It is an honor to teach at the location where he once trod as a very young man.

"There is a Texas Historical Marker on the grounds on Holman Street. Cronkite and his generation of journalists will be remembered and honored for years, as many students pause to read the marker, on a daily basis."

Watson’s quick response:

"OH MY GOODNESS! That is simply amazing! Have you written a Bleacher article on that? I think it would make an amazing story."

I, then, wrote:

"It just hit me—BAM (smiles) tonight when I wrote you. Tomorrow I will go over to that building and take a few pictures. Then, I will think over it. You see, we are having quite of few of these timely moments."

So, the morning of July 21, 2009, I arrived at school with my digital camera, ready to take pictures of the historical marker. In the San Jacinto Memorial Building (once called San Jacinto High School) a museum houses archives containing historical information on thousands of high school students who once walked the grounds of 1300 Holman Street, Houston, Texas.

I trotted to the second floor, and the central display showed Walter Cronkite, featured in a May 15, 1985 article of the Houston Post. A story written by Dalma Heyn contained a prophetic question, “What would we do without him? Walter Cronkite had told us…”

That question is still pertinent. During his career, Cronkite “interpreted for us the myriad complicated happenings in our world.

“He explained changes that were taking place so rapidly we could hardly process them, let along comprehend their significance.”

Does history repeat itself? Yes, said a college student in a math class at Houston Community College, Central Campus, the precise location where Cronkite once dwelled as a young man, and the place where I have tried to inspire young people to pursue excellence.

And to bring it all full circle, I have now shared the halls with a great football coach who became the nation's leading educator, Dr. Rod Paige, U. S. Secretary of Education, and now Walter Cronkite, gentleman, sportsman, journalist extraordinaire.

Is Bleacher Report special or what?

As history seems to repeat itself, so then Cronkite’s question must be resounded, “What would we do without him?”

One answer is clear: We will continue to be inspired by his contributions, and we will function as befitting protégés, vicariously mentored by his standard of excellence in communications and journalism, in sports and news.

A classical response of  Walter Cronkite’s is appropriate here: “…And that’s the way it is.”

Walter Cronkite stood out in the crowd of 37,948 students who attended San Jacinto High School. His career glares through dark moments, like lightning streaking the sky at night.

He reported on the dark moments in history: assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Dr. Martin Luther King; of Watergate and the resignation of President Richard Nixon; and of the Vietnam War.

He shared the excitement of reporting on the first man on the moon.

He was athletic, and he loved to play tennis. He even raced cars at 140 mph. The Post writer said, “He was once the proud owner of a Lotus.”

“He still plays hard and plays to win,” said the reporter, in 1985, 4 years after his so-called retirement from CBS.

In the article mounted and posted in the museum at my college, Cronkite is seen grasping his pipe, a man married for more than 60 years.

His final words at a benchmark in his career:

This is my last broadcast as the anchorman of The CBS Evening News; for me, it's a moment for which I long have planned, but which, nevertheless, comes with some sadness. For almost two decades, after all, we've been meeting like this in the evenings, and I'll miss that. But those who have made anything of this departure, I'm afraid have made too much.

“This is but a transition, a passing of the baton. A great broadcaster and gentleman, Doug Edwards, preceded me in this job, and another, Dan Rather, will follow. And anyway, the person who sits here is but the most conspicuous member of a superb team of journalists; writers, reporters, editors, producers, and none of that will change.

“Furthermore, I'm not even going away! I'll be back from time to time with special news reports and documentaries, and, beginning in June, every week, with our science program, Universe.Old anchormen, you see, don't fade away; they just keep coming back for more. And that's the way it is: Friday, March 6, 1981. I'll be away on assignment, and Dan Rather will be sitting in here for the next few years. Good night”

Walter Leland Cronkite, Jr. (November 4, 1916 – July 17, 2009), farewell as we recall your words:

“This is but a transition, a passing of the baton…”

Related

    Which ASG Teammates Would Fit with LBJ in LA?

    Featured logo
    Featured

    Which ASG Teammates Would Fit with LBJ in LA?

    Adam Fromal
    via Bleacher Report

    NFL Teams That Should Completely Rebuild Now

    Featured logo
    Featured

    NFL Teams That Should Completely Rebuild Now

    Brad Gagnon
    via Bleacher Report

    Most Memorable ASG Moments Ever

    Featured logo
    Featured

    Most Memorable ASG Moments Ever

    Dan Favale
    via Bleacher Report

    UFC Badly Needs a Velasquez Comeback

    Featured logo
    Featured

    UFC Badly Needs a Velasquez Comeback

    Scott Harris
    via Bleacher Report