For more than 30 years, Fred Rogers brought joy, peace and friendship to the millions of children who watched “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” on PBS. The television host was seen as more than just an entertainer. He came to be seen as a beacon of light and hope for the countless children who cherished his many lessons.
His loyal television audience, of course, included children who were visually impaired. In fact, Rogers had a subtle but thoughtful way of including those kids in every broadcast.
People who watched “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” regularly will likely remember the way he would declare aloud that it was time to feed his fish. That tradition started when the entertainer received a letter from a blind girl who was a fan of the show.
According to NBC’s “Today” show, the girl wrote to Rogers explaining that she loved his show but since she couldn’t see, she sometimes worried about the fish and whether he was feeding him or not. Keeping this sweet girl and her compassionate nature in mind, Rogers made sure to always say aloud when he was feeding his fish, in case she was watching and wondering if his fish were hungry.
Stories like this are just one of the many reasons why Mister Rogers remains such a powerful force of love and goodness in this world. Many children have touching memories of how this brilliant man brought comfort to them during a difficult time, including the story below, which a abuse-survivor shared on Facebook.
The child, now a grown man, speaks of how he was viciously abused by his mother as a child, and how watching “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” and hearing the host say, “I like you just the way you are,” gave him the strength and self-worth to survive his childhood and, in turn, grow up to be a champion for children’s rights himself.
Rogers died in 2003 at the age of 74. This year marks the 50th anniversary of his beloved PBS series. The network is celebrating his legacy with a new special, “Mister Rogers: It’s You I Like,” which airs March 6 on PBS stations.
It was also recently announced that Tom Hanks will play Rogers in an upcoming movie, called “You Are My Friend.” It’s a great time to be a fan of the gentle icon.
Rogers may be gone, but for his millions of fans, he will never be forgotten.