The View from the Hill for Sunday 19th July.
The death of Walter Cronkite inspires today’s View, a man who was described as the voice of America, the most trusted man in America, the model for all serious anchor men over the last 50 or more years.
His delivery of the news of the death of President Kennedy back in 1963, is one of those iconic moments in journalistic history, I suggest you watch the clip if you have never seen it.
The death of Kennedy itself a defining moment in US history, and it prompted the use of that question – the one we hear so often these days attributed to the deaths of lesser mortals, do you remember where you were and what you were doing when Kennedy died?
I was only 2, so I was probably no where important, and of course the one man we would want to answer that question more than any other, cannot answer it thanks to Jack Ruby.
I do remember where I was when the Space shuttle Challenger exploded 70 seconds after take off. It was January 28th 1986 and I was watching along with a group of other people outside Rumbelows shop window on Lincoln High Street. We all stood in shock. It certainly was a moment I shall never forget. Likewise the Bradford fire, I was sat in the front room of a house on Browning Drive in Lincoln, delivering a message to a family about their son, it was absolutely unbelievable watching the disaster unfold on that Saturday afternoon in May 1985, and John Helms commentary was chilling.
Two years later, I was at the airport on route to a skiing holiday as the Herald of Free Enterprise story played out on the news. I sat in my front room and watched the coverage of the second plane crashing into the towers on 9/11.
The day Roy Orbison died, the day Benny Hill died, the day Frankie Howerd died, the day Walter Matthau died, I was going on holiday on all of these days. (I am heading off next week, watch and see who I kill this time).
Of course, when Diana died, I was on my way back from Wales – some sort of symmetry there I suppose. I was leaving Wales as she was leaving the world.
Why is it that we seem able to recall where we were when bad things happened and it is harder to recall where we were on happier days?
Any way, back to Cronkite, and as he himself said so many times, (and) “that’s the way it is”.