Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Mr. Rogers Neighborhood

Boston University, 1992

Commencement Speaker: Mr. Rogers

Yes, Mr. Rogers.  I could hardly contain my excitement sitting out in the quad area of Boston University's main campus. It was a hot day in May at my cousin's graduation ceremony.  Mr. Rogers created such a buzz in this big gathering. Everyone couldn't stop talking about him.  Before the ceremony began, we all shared our favorite memory of his tv show.  I grew up with Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, as I'm sure a good many of my readers did.  The show didn't have all the bells & whistles of The Electric Company and no Big Bird from Sesame Street.  But, it was just as special.  As a kid, I wanted so badly to ride the trolley, visit the Land of Make Believe and meet Prince Tuesday & King Friday. 

Mr. Rogers started his address by commenting what a beautiful day it was and then he gave us our cue to sing along.  All of us - maybe 4,000 or so in total from different parts of the world - singing in unison -

"It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood. A beautiful day for a neighbor. Won't you be mine? Could you be mine?"

I still get goosebumps thinking about that moment. 

He gave a beautiful commencement speech asking us to remember those who believed in us and brought us to where we are now.  He advised the Class of 1992 and their family & friends that everything is not going to go as planned.  He said that it is our attitude that determines our altitude in life. I loved that.  It is so true. 

At the end, he treated us to one final song that is a favorite of mine:

"It's you I like.

It's not the things you wear.

It's not the way you do your hair

But it's you I like.

The way you are right now

The way down deep inside you.

Not the things that hide you.

Not your caps and gowns,

They're just beside you.

But it's you I like.

Every part of you.

Your skin, your eyes, your feelings

Whether old or new.

I hope that you remember

Even when you're feeling blue.

That it's you I like,

It's you, yourself

It's you.

It's you I like."

I read someplace that the message in that song was that you don't have to do anything sensational for people to love you.  In my blog today, I'd like to embrace my hippy dippy  "Free to Be You And Me" past and say - it was Mr. Rogers that I liked and a graduation that I will always remember.

This week we were asked to think about graduation. It didn't have to be mine and it didn't have to be high school. It had to be non-fiction, so you know this is true. I almost wrote about the graduation that I attended at Brown University and we saw Ringo Starr, Jane Fonda and Ted Turner on the same day.  It was a tough choice, but this story is much more meaningful to me. Concrit welcome.  



  1. What a wonderful human being Fred Rogers was. I feel like my kids are missing out because he's not in their daily lives like he was in mine.

  2. I am green with envy at your experience. I was hanging on every word of the post trying to share the experience. Can't tell you how much I loved that man. Loved him as a kid, but loved him even more years later when I could trust him to provide a loving, warm and appropriate viewing experience for my kids. Thanks for sharing. You made my day!

  3. How great that you got to see Mr. Rogers! In person. And sing with him. I would have licked that man's sneakers. ;-)

    Thanks for visiting my bloggie today! I hope you'll come back: I'm usually much more spunky!

  4. Thanks! I feel my kids are missing out on him too. He is a much better example than what is out there today.

  5. But did he change his shoes and his sweater at the end of the speech? ;) In all seriousness, what a great speaker and a great memory. It's a good reminder for us all that every day can be a beautiful day in the neighborhood...

  6. Thanks for sharing your up-close-and-personal with Mr. Rodgers. I loved this man...and still have the NYTimes obituary from when he died. Ahhhh...the good ol' days...

  7. Oh my...that show frightened me. He changed his shows and sweaters too often. And spoke in a tone of voice that seemed beneath a man of his stature.

    Interestingly, I have come to appreciate his message and teachings much more as an adult. In writing. Not watching reruns.

    I know...I'm in the minority on this one.

  8. I love this! What an amazing experience to hear someone that you adore and admire give a commencement speech!

    I think that he picked perfect songs and seriously-how incredible to have everyone sing together!

    Kind of symbolic in a working together we can change the world kind of way,

    *Sorry for the sap factor! Wow! Where did *that* come from?! :)

  9. I loved this. How great to have him reassuring you in the way he always had that things would be okay. I am also a bit jealous! Wish he'd been my graduation speaker!

  10. Mr. Rogers was and always will be one of my heroes. Growing up, he taught me so many important lessons and made me long for that beautiful Land of Make Believe. I can imagine just how much you treasure this lovely memory. Thanks so much for sharing it with us!

    Stopping by from TRDC. Thanks for stopping by my blog, too :)

  11. I am so jealous! Mr. Rogers seems like the absolute perfect speaker for graduation (much better then Tom Brokaw reading an excerpt from his latest book on World War II!)

  12. @ Jane - I read so much about Mr. Rogers before I wrote this post and started ot miss him again. Such a great man.

    @ Frummie - Really? LOL! I never thought of him as scary to a child. His teachings are timeless though.

    @ Galit - LOL - I brought out another side of you. I knew it wasd there somewhere. :)

    To everyone else, thanks for reading! It was such a memorable experience and so nice to share it with you.


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