As a kid I could’ve listened to him all day. As an adult, I laughed at spoofs of him on Saturday Night Live. But as I look back, it occurs to me now that Mr. Fred Rogers was really innovative for his time. He saw TV as a medium to educate. In case you don’t know who Mr. Rogers is, he was an American educator and hosted a TV show for kids called Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. I liked the way he taught. He was very calming.
I also found this excerpt on Wikipedia from Esquire Magazine’s coverage of the 1997 Emmys, written by Tom Junod and remember it well:
Mister Rogers went onstage to accept the award and there, in front of all the soap opera stars and talk show sinceratrons, in front of all the jutting man-tanned jaws and jutting saltwater bosoms, he made his small bow and said into the microphone, “All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, ten seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are. Ten seconds of silence.”
And then he lifted his wrist, looked at the audience, looked at his watch, and said, ‘I’ll watch the time.” There was, at first, a small whoop from the crowd, a giddy, strangled hiccup of laughter, as people realized that he wasn’t kidding, that Mister Rogers was not some convenient eunuch, but rather a man, an authority figure who actually expected them to do what he asked. And so they did. One second, two seconds, seven seconds and now the jaws clenched, and the bosoms heaved, and the mascara ran, and the tears fell upon the beglittered gathering like rain leaking down a crystal chandelier. And Mister Rogers finally looked up from his watch and said softly, “May God be with you,” to all his vanquished children.
In honor of a great children’s educator and visionary, can you take 10 seconds here on Valentine’s Day to think of the people who have helped you become who you are?