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7/18/2009

W.C.

In November of 1963 I was stationed on Okinawa as a member of the United States Marine Corps.

We were out on bivouac at a place called the Northern Training Area, living in 10 man tents. Roughing it. It was wet and rainy and walking guard duty at night was miserable.

I remember, as vividly as if it happened yesterday, a feeling growing in me that there was something wrong. I walked past the tent where my squad leader was supposed to be sleeping, and I could see, in the light of the Coleman lantern next to his bunk, that he was awake and reading. The feeling of dread was so strong in me, that I walked into his tent and asked him if I was in some sort of trouble. He reassured me that there wasn't any trouble brewing that he was aware of, and that I should get back to my post before that changed.

I went back to walking guard, and a short time later, as I walked past one of the Weapons Platoon tents, I heard Walter Cronkite's voice, thinly, on someone's transistor radio, announce that President Kennedy was dead, and had been for 38 minutes.

I suddenly knew where that feeling of dread had come from.

The whole camp was awake in a matter of minutes. I went to the Company Commander's tent, woke him, and told him what I had heard. At first I don't think he was willing to believe it, but then I told him that the voice I heard was Walter Cronkite. He got up, got his radio, in fact, everybody found themselves gathered around the few radios we had in the camp, and we spent the rest of the night listening for more news - trying to make sense of what had happened. We waited for more word from Walter Cronkite.

Walter Cronkite died yesterday. A voice I listened to, and respected, all my life, is now silent, as we must all go to silence. His voice, however, will be missed by millions. And by me.

Ndinombethe, Walter.

15 comments:

Eric S. said...

Ahh a truely well respected voice, trusted by millions. He will be missed.

Patsy said...

A voice that I could trust. I miss him, and several of the other old news anchors. They reported the news in such an honest way or in a way that seems so much more honest --- I remember watching as he gave reports on the Kennedy assasination --- also remember him crying on camera that day.

And I didn't realize you are that much older than me. I was a freshman in HS that fall.

witchypoo said...

Everybody who was alive at the time of the JFK assassination remembers where they were, and associates Walter's voice with the disbelief and sorrow. It was one of the earlier all news all day events.
And? You are even older than I am. Who knew?

calicobebop said...

I was so sad to hear of his passing. He will be missed.

moneythoughts said...

That was back in the days when news was news and not entertainment. Yes, I remember watching Walter on the TV tell the nation of the exact time Kennedy died at Park Hospital in Dallas, Texas that afternoon (EST).

Honeybell said...

Walter's public life ended before I was old enough to recognize who he was and what he meant. But even now, I know that we have lost a great man; there will never be another.

Jientje said...

Even I remember his name, and I remember the images on the news. But I'm not sure I remember where I was or what IU was doing when President Kennedy got killed. I guess I was too young, I don't know. I do remember the Martin Luther King murder, and the first man on the moon though. And I remember clearly where I was, and what I was doing then? Funny how your mind seems to forget "this", and remember "that" ...

I'm sure if I heard a recording of his voice, I would recognize it.
May he rest in Peace.

Jientje said...

PS I enjoyed your story. Very well written.

Ree said...

Wow. November 1963 is when my father came home from Okinawa.

Have you read Walter Cronkite's Autobiography? It's pretty amazing.

Tara R. said...

I was barely a year old when JFK was assassinated, but I do remember sitting on the floor in front of the TV watching Cronkite report on the first moon walk. He was truly an American icon.

Momisodes said...

He will surely be missed.

Joyce-Anne said...

He was a trusted journalist and will be missed.

LceeL said...

ALL: Thank you all for reading and commenting. He will be missed.

warriorwoman said...

i know who he is but i never listened to him.
i understand how you all associate him with moments in your life though.
i wonder, in the years to come, who will be my cronkite?

NicoleB said...

:(