Tribute to Mr. Rogers

Here is a letter I wrote to Mr. Rogers on 12-15-2000. He wrote a reply. He read all of his mail and answered it personally.

Dear Mr. Rogers,

I am 50 years old (male). I did not begin watching your show until I was in High School in the mid 1960’s.

For the past several years, I have wanted to write you a letter of praise and thanks.

Today, I saw your program on PBS Television, and I decided to search the Internet, and find your email address.

When I was in high school, I would come home in the afternoon feeling nervous and pressured by the academic demands placed upon me. I would turn on your show, and instantly feel a calm and a peace, a tranquility which your show and your personality inspires. Although I have not had time to view your show regularly through the years, any time I did tune in I always perceived this same atmosphere of peace and tranquility. And also, I might add, a sense of moral and ethical strength, of purity and integrity and most importantly EQUANIMITY (an even keeled spirit in the face of all things).

Two years ago, I had to settle my late mother’s estate near New Haven, Connecticut, where I grew up and first saw your show. The day before I sold the house that I grew up in, I saw my next door neighbor, now quite elderly, making his way to his mailbox with his walker. I went to say goodbye to him, explaining that the house was being sold. He had moved into that neighborhood in 1955, when my parents bought that house across the street from him. I grew up and went to school with his son. As I said goodbye to him that day, the last thing he did was look at me with a smile and a twinkle in his eye and he sang the beginning of your theme song, “Won’t you be my neighbor.”

Obviously, many adults watch your show as well as children. I think this is a great tribute to you and your program. The episode that I happened to see today featured the young boy who was handicapped and in a wheelchair. As I watched him, I realized how foolish I am sometimes in my own life, feeling sorry for myself over the little problems and frustrations that I experience. We all realize that there are those in this world who face far greater problems, and face them from infancy onward, and yet they manage to be courageous and optimistic about the blessings that they do have. We all know this ‘intellectually’ but few of us know this ’emotionally’. I am quite certain that these are some of the very messages which you seek to convey to your audience.

In my Internet search today, I came across some biographical material about your own life and education. I had not realized that you pursued a vocation in the ministry. But I am certainly not surprised to learn of your religious background, since the feelings I have always had from your show are ones of a deeply spiritual nature, yet totally free of any sectarian or doctrinal overtones. I now realize that this too is a great tribute to your success; to convey a spiritual message without appearing ‘religious’. Perhaps that is the highest form of religion that there is.

Perhaps the very meekness, gentleness and compassion which you convey every day in your program is a ‘living icon’ of that Personality which you yearn to proclaim and about which you are perennially, tactfully silent.

Several years ago, I noticed a news item that you were involved in some litigation to protect your name from unauthorized misuse in the media. My first thought was simple “Yes. He should. Mr. Roger’s stands for something important, and no one should wrongfully misuse that name or image for purposes contrary to Mr. Roger’s goals and standards.”

I do hope that this little email of mine can reach you personally, Mr. Rogers. I realize from reading your biographical info that you have no shortage of awards and commendations for your life’s work. You do not know me personally, and yet you have been a part of my life since I was very young. Yet even the holiest of temples is built up by individual stones. I am sure you have touched the lives and hearts of several generations now, young and old. And the seeds which you have patiently sown these many years will surely take deep roots in the fabric of our society for generations to come. And your values and ideas, so subtle and tactful as to be almost subliminal, will shape our world for decades, perhaps centuries to come.

I did not want to reach the end my life without having expressing my thanks to you. Of course, many individuals touch our lives, especially in this soon to end 20th century of unprecedented media and communications explosion. Such personalities as yours and others become perhaps larger than life, larger than your own individuality. I am sure that the gravity of this responsibility, the weight of this public image, has been trying for you at times. And yet, our world needs larger-than-life heroes and icons, even though we are “vessels of clay”. I think St. Paul wrote somewhere, “God places His treasures of gold in vessels of clay”. I just want you to know that there are people out here who know your job has not been an easy one, living in the public eye, and you have surely made your own personal sacrifices and suffered in order to achieve your goals. But from where I stand, it looks like you have done your work masterfully. I am quite certain in my heart that one day you will hear those cherished words “Well done, good and faithful servant.” If anyone deserves to hear them, it is certainly you. You have been a shining beacon in what is otherwise an often dark and sinister television medium.

God bless you Mr. Rogers! It has been an honor to know you over these many years.

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