The Man on TV

There are some things in life that have been and are just always there. Some are obvious - do you remember meeting your parents? There are other things like TV shows - growing up, I always liked Fraggle Rock. As an adult, I can?t really remember why, what the episodes were about, or even when it was on. There are other things - like music, restaurants, and places that I've grown used to over the years that are just part of everyday life.

Growing up, my parents would watch the news while we ate dinner every evening. As a small child, it was mainly background noise to me, but there was always the same face, the same voice every night. As I grew up, I began to understand more and more, and as a young adult liked to stay informed.

On a cold February Saturday morning in 2003, I happened to be up fairly early and turned on the TV to watch the shuttle Columbia land. Watching NASA TV was fairly boring, but the space program is of particular interest to me and I liked to watch.

It was fairly obvious early on that something went terribly wrong that morning. Watching it live on TV was upsetting and scary. I changed to the regular news channels, who had just started their coverage - the Columbia had been destroyed during re-entry.

It was then that I realized the effect of things that we trust to always be there. The first few hours after Columbia was to have landed, the networks scrambled to start coverage of the story. The initial coverage of the event was by (roughly) whomever they had around the studio. It wasn't until later in the day that the regular news anchors made it to the studio to continue coverage. There was something reassuring when that happened; a sense of normalcy in a crisis situation.

This morning, I woke up early to check to see if the shuttle Discovery had made its safe landing. I found it was still (safely) in space, it's landing delayed due to bad weather. But I also discovered, the person who was missing those first few hours after Columbia had exploded a few years earlier, had died. Peter Jennings was trusted by all of us, and somehow got us through events like the destruction of Columbia, September 11, and the war in Iraq, to name a few recent events. He was always "the man on TV" for as long as I could remember, giving the news. Even during a crisis, "the man on TV" would be there to tell us about it, making it a bit easier to deal with by having someone that had always been there. This type of trust is rare these days, and I cannot express enough gratitude to Peter Jennings for that. He will be missed by all of us.