July 19th, 2009
07:36 AM ET

Dear President Obama #181: Cue the alarmism...

Reporter's Note: President Barack Obama has asked Americans for advice. I feel this was a personal message to me, so every day I am writing a letter to him.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/07/18/cronkite.thats.the.way.it.is/art.cronkite.01.cbs.jpg]

Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

I was sad to see the news of Walter Cronkite’s passing. I never met him, which is a little strange since I certainly know plenty of his contemporaries. I was standing a few feet from him at a party once, but he was busy talking to another guy.

When I was a kid in South Dakota I would listen to him talk about the Vietnam War every night. I remember hearing him recite the death toll and it was pretty frightening for a kid with glasses who trudged off to the Badger Clark Elementary School every morning. My mother once spent several days cutting handkerchief’s out of old bed sheets, dying them olive green, then ironing and packing them to send to my Uncle Butch’s platoon in Vietnam. It made me even more interested and afraid of what Uncle Walter had to say.

Still, Cronkite’s matter-of-fact delivery was reassuring. It said, “Hey, the world can be a rough place. But you can count on me to shoot straight with you, and that’s something.” People often talk about the poll that found him to be the most trusted person in America. Can you imagine? A journalist. My profession has taken quite a tumble since those days, but then I suppose yours has too.