Memories of Walter Cronkite — as both a sailor on the Vineyard waterfront and as the nation’s favorite television journalist — were shared Sunday night at the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown. Titled A Celebration of the Life of Walter Cronkite, it was an evening of stories, pictures, tributes of Mr. Cronkite and a look toward the leaders of tomorrow.
Against a changing slide show of images of Walter Cronkite taken mostly by Island photographers, the event, sponsored by the Stone Soup Leadership Institute and the Rotary Club of Martha’s Vineyard, featured two speakers and a singer. David McCullough, the celebrated author and historian who lives in West Tisbury, recalled his own memories of Mr. Cronkite, the CBS anchorman who died last July, and offered the thought that youngsters growing up today might not know who the most trusted man in America was.
Ray Ellis, an Edgartown artist who had collaborated with Walter Cronkite on book projects, also spoke.
There was a short video produced by the Martha’s Vineyard Leadership Initiative and underwritten by a local youth leadership initiative of the Stone Soup Institute.
The institute then honored two students with the Walter Cronkite Award, one for his work on the Vineyard, and another for his work on a distant Caribbean island. Both presentations were given by Walter Cronkite 4th.
Chris Pitt, a junior at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, won the local award for his efforts as both producer and director of the leadership video. “Chris has shown the essential qualities of integrity, hard work, dedication and humility that we all admired in Walter Cronkite,” the program for the evening said.
Josue Cruz Morales was given a global award for his efforts on Vieques, an island near Puerto Rico. As a college student, Mr. Morales sought to develop a new report on sustainable development for his home island. He was a featured speaker at the Vineyard Youth Summit last month.
The evening concluded with songs by the well-known Vineyard singer and songwriter Livingston Taylor, who recalled his own fond memories of Mr. Cronkite, including one time when he watched Mr. Cronkite come to tears hearing God Bless America and America the Beautiful combined into one song at the Martha’s Vineyard Community Services Possible Dreams Auction.
On Sunday night Mr. Taylor sang that song again.