And Now For Something Completely Different.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFzXaFbxDcM Today, March 2oth, marks the 85th birthday of the late Fred Rogers, host of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood which was produced here in Pittsburgh at WQED. It was impossible to grow up in this region at the time I did and not be influenced by Mr. Rogers. His reassuring personality permeated us as children. He taught us that we were all special, that we all had something unique to bring into the world. And most importantly, he taught to approach others and new situations with curiosity rather than fear.

Writes Brendan McGinley in 5 Moments That Prove Mr Rogers Was the Greatest American : " Sit down, neighbor, and hear of a man who did not conquer the world, but did it one better; he reminded us that the world needs unity rather than conquest. He walked among us as a man, although he was a hand-to-God saint. They say the difference between a saint and a psychopath is empathy, and Mr. Fred Rogers had an ocean of it, which makes him either the sanest man in history or the craziest hero we ever had."

Fred Rogers had the courage of his convictions. Watch him beguile Congress when President Nixon was threatening to cut in half the budget for then fledgling PBS (some things never change, do they?).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXEuEUQIP3Q

We could all use a little of Mr. Rogers' civility and compassion these days. FoxNews disagrees of course.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29lmR_357rA

Really? Mr. Rogers is to blame for the shortcomings of a whole generation?

What Fred Rogers did, among many things, was create safe space. Safe space to talk about difficult, confusing and very necessary things like anger, deathdivorce, even 9/11.

He also did cool things to ignite our imaginations like this Rube Goldberg-like domino fall (my brain never recovered from that – in a seriously good way!), invited the Wicked Witch of the West onto his show, and visited Rosie O'Donnell in 1996.

He also did a lot to stimulate the musical nature of us children, including the  likes of Wynton Marsalis,  local fave Joe Negri (who was a regular) and of course the late Johnny Costa.

Was he corny? Sometimes. Sincere? Always, and the 6 year old in me got that. And still does.

And, in a lesser known segment, he even engaged in an epic rap battle with Mr. T!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZsKqbt3gQ0

Thank you Mr. Rogers. Just thank you!