Friday, 17 July 2009

Walter Cronkite Was My Brother

There have been many tributes in the media to the late Walter Cronkite, a man whose integrity has never been questioned, except maybe by a few unsavoury individuals years ago who felt their spin should be universally acknowledged, accepted and regurgitated without question.

This eulogy may be slightly different, for while members of the mainstream media will feel a kinship with one of the last of the TV journalistic giants, your humble blogger feels even more so. For while I am Justa Mason, I am also Justa DeMolay. And while Walter Cronkite was not a Freemason, he was a DeMolay. An active one in his Chapter, at that.

‘Uncle Walter' was born in St. Joseph, Missouri and moved to Houston, Texas at the age of ten. It was in Houston Chapter he joined Frank Land's fraternity for boys and promised to “be faithful to every trust committed to me” as millions of others have done. He had a one-line tale about his membership (in what he termed “DeMolay...the junior Masonic order”) in his autobiography A Reporter's Life . He reported:

“I am one of that number who have an aversion to the slightest hint of regimentation...evident when...I steadfastly marched north while the rest of the fellows reversed smartly and marched south, thus costing our DeMolay drill team a state championship.”

Whether coincidence or an indication of something greater, it should be noted that two of Cronkite's TV contemporaries—Chet Huntley and John Cameron Swayze—were DeMolays. So was Elmer Lower, the one-time president of ABC News. And on the radio news side, there was commentator Paul Harvey, who passed away earlier this year.

On a smaller scale, I work in a newsroom with two Senior DeMolays. One of them gave me my first office (Fifth Preceptor) some $@#%+* years ago. (Hmm. How did that garble get there?)

I'd like to tell you more about Cronkite's DeMolay history. To do so, I've gone to the web page for the DeMolay Hall of Fame . I can find a guy barred from the Baseball Hall of Fame for gambling. There's another with at least two drunk driving convictions who pleaded no contest to the same charge this year. And I'll avoid comment about another entrant lest I be accused of having some kind of U.S. political bias or agenda. But there's nothing about the Most Trusted Man in America.

Perhaps it's an oversight. I simply cannot believe Walter Cronkite has been omitted from the DeMolay Hall of Fame.

If he has been so honoured, I would hope the people at DeMolay International would add something to the Hall of Fame Page. If he has not been inducted, the formerly-known-as I.S.C. should rectify the situation forthwith. For DeMolay should be paying tribute to one of its own, just as saddened news reporters around the world have been doing since word of his death.

Walter Cronkite was my Brother. I only hope I can be worthy of it. Posted by Justa Mason at 21:33


Anonymous said...

Yes He was a Brother to us all. I am an Active Demolay who never knew who Brother Walter Cronkite was until after I had been Initiated into Demolay and read the names of brothers who are public figures. Brother Cronkite deserves a spot in the Demolay Hall of Fame and as an Active Demolay I will do all in my power to honor the memory of Brother Cronkite.

17 July 2009 22:09 Chris said...

Well said Brother! I happened upon your blog as a result of my search to see if Walter Cronkite was a mason. I figured he was because of his honesty, truth, and integrity. Of course, he was also old school American where these virtues were instilled in almost all.
I was not a DeMolay, and didn't join the fraternity until later in life, (34). I have since discovered that many (most?) of the people I admired and aspired to emulate, were Masons.
'Uncle' Walter definitely fell into that category,! He was a great man, true to himself, to God, and all mankind!!
C.Hubley KYCH, Ohio

17 July 2009 22:27 Justa Mason said...

Chris, you put it very well. I get back to the word "integrity." It is one of the lessons of the DeMolay Degree. And the Master Mason Degree if you think about it. Walter Cronkite lived it; there could be no other way for him.

He was not a Freemason, but as far as I'm concerned, he would have made a fine one.

I work with a veteran in the business who knew Walter Cronkite. And he says what you saw on TV is what he was.

18 July 2009 00:51 Anonymous said...

Brother Walter was not only a DeMolay, he was a holder of the Legion of Honor. I was there when he was inducted at the Texas State Conclave in the old Shamrock Hilton Hotel in Houston. This was in the late 1950's. Another inductee was a midshipman at Annapolis. I don't remember his name and have often wondered where he went in his naval career.

23 July 2009 11:17