When Michael Jackson passed away early this month, many hailed it as the death of a legend. I wrote a post questioning this status. And many people, I know, were angry at those of us who had the audacity to question the label of "legend" for a 50 year old who spent the last 15 years of his life battling drug addiction, and an image (true or not) as a pedophile and a "freak." While nobody doubts his contributions to the music scene, both in the early days of Motown with The Jackson 5, and in the early 80s, with Thriller, I believe the attention given to his death (and memorial service) was, frankly, obscene. We don't give this kind of attention to presidents when they die. Reagan certainly didn't receive this kind of attention, day in and day out. And he was a real legend.
Nor will the man who passed away today, Walter Cronkite, receive that kind of attention (nor might I add, would he likely want it). Dubbed the "Most Trusted Man in America," he was the man that the country turned to when Kennedy was assassinated, when we landed on the moon, when we went to war in Vietnam, when the Nuremburg Trials started, when the hostages were taken in Iran. When we needed news, reassurance, or just a familiar face to deliver the news, he was there. What man today could end a president's career simply by giving his opinion of a war? When Cronkite said that we were mired in a stalemate in Vietnam, Johnson knew that he couldn't win the war, and announced that he wouldn't run for re-election. Because if he'd lost Cronkite, he'd lost middle America.
I grew up in the late 60s, and all through the 70s watching the CBS nightly news with Walter Cronkite with my parents every night. As did almost every other household in America who owned a TV and watched a TV. He was a TRUE legend, and will be missed. And that's the way it is.