Today would have been Fred Rogers' 85th birthday.
After reading a recent article on cracked.com (which you should read, but I'm about to lay a long article on you anyway), I, too, am convinced Fred Rogers is one of the Greatest Americans who ever lived. I cannot think of anyone else who brought such joy to not just children, but to people of all ages. As someone approaching their mid-30s, I'm at the tail end of a large group of people that had my childhood directly affected by him.
When I grew up, there was no cable TV, just six or so channels. I didn't have Nickelodeon, I just had PBS. Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers, then Reading Rainbow. That was my educational programming in my soft-headed years. Mr. Rogers was slow-paced, deliberate, and reinforcing. He was perfect.
These days, I don't know if the show would've survived much longer. PBS stopped running his show around 2008. Everything is too fast paced, too bright, too flashy. And Mr. Rogers tackled HUGE subjects with toddlers. Death. Divorce. Bullies. Anger. Enstilling self-confidence in yourself. Adults watching could've learned a thing or two from him as well. I know I still can.
Below, after the video, I've left a link and reprinted a long out-of-print article from a 1998 Esquire piece about Mr. Rogers. Take about ten to twenty minutes to read it. If anything, you'll realize what a great man he was and how much he meant to so many people.
I'll admit to you that haven't had the best year so far. But the video below helps me a great deal. Mr. Rogers recorded this shortly after his PBS run ended in August of 2001. He filmed this as a response to how adults should comfort their children after 9/11. In general, it is a message of hope. To me, this is restoring some self-confidence... and if you're feeling down, this might help you too. Heck, it's just nice to know someone likes you just the way you are.
I'm not a religious man anymore, but I can say this with certainty: If you believe in the second coming of Christ, or that he reincarnates himself every now and then and blends in with the masses to help change the world, then we have already experienced that grace with one Fred McFeely Rogers.