Fred Rogers: Teacher and Hero…….on to a better neighborhood

“I was thinking about my mother, who rode a horse to school, and she lived to see somebody walk on the moon. It’s just amazing what human beings can do when they want to — for good or ill.”

“I’m just sending an e-mail postcard from our site to my sister, and I’m hoping that it’s going through,” Fred Rogers is saying. “Her name is Elaine. We have these cards you can make, so I sent her one that has Lady Elaine Fairchilde,” a character from the neighborhood.

Mr. Rogers was in real life, what we saw on television. The world lost a great man when Mr. Rogers moved to a new, better, neighborhood last night, not becuase he achieved what he aspired but because of what he aspired to achieve.

Fred Rogers knew he wanted to be part of television from the moment he saw the new invention. “I saw people smashing pies in each others’ faces and wondered why we had to use such a great invention to show pictures of people behavng in demeaning ways toward one another,” he said in a recent interview.

Mr. Rogers is an easy parody, an obvious subject for satire fodder. But no one who ever saw Mr. Rogers didn’t resepct what he did even if they parodied his show.

Can you say “heartache for the loss of such a great guy?”

Sure, I kew you could. I like the way you say heartache.

His radio obit topped every other story this morning — as well it should have. Topped Dan Rathers pandering interview with Sadaam. Topped President Bush’s speech last night about a new Iraq. All as it should be. Mr. Rodgers career had at least as much impact on the future of the world via his influence on children as any event in today’s news.

Fred Rogers conciously designed his show to have few time-relevant pieces so it could be shown for generations to come — to get the positive messages and influences out for children for many years.

Here’s hoping tomorrow’s televisions executives are brilliant enough to make it happen.

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