Fred McFeely Rogers, better known as Mr. Rogers, remains a beloved childhood icon for the millions who tuned in to his weekly Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood television series. A kindly father figure to many, he sang and imparted words of wisdom to generations of young viewers while going about his daily activities.
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The show debuted on May 22, 1967 — 50 years to the day of the bombing in Manchester, England, that left 22 dead and dozens more wounded.
That quote is now making the rounds on the Internet in the wake of the Manchester tragedy, particularly in light of two helpers who have since emerged. A 48-year-old woman ushered 50 children to safety at a nearby hotel, while a 35-year-old homeless man who was sleeping nearby, rushed to aid the wounded.
Mr. Rogers’ quote prompted Anthony Breznican, a senior writer at Entertainment Weekly, to reminisce in a series of tweets about the impact Mr. Rogers had on his life, not only during childhood but also as a young man.
During an especially tough period back in college, Breznican was grieving the recent death of his grandfather and recalls feeling soothed when he caught a snippet from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood wafting out of his dorm’s common room.
“Mr. Rogers (was) there, asking me what I do with the mad I feel. (I had lots to spare. still do,”he wrote. “It feels silly to say — it felt silly then — but I stood mesmerized. His show felt like a cool hand on a hot head. I left feeling better.â€
In a fortuitous twist of fate, Breznican found himself riding in an elevator with Mr. Rogers just days later. They were about to go their separate ways, but Breznican found himself telling Mr. Rogers about the incident in his dorm, and the two eventually sat down to talk.
For anyone who ever doubted Mr. Rogers’ sincerity, the conversation that followed shows that he wasn’t simply playing a character on television, but was truly the embodiment of empathy and compassion.
Read Breznican’s story below:
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