WHAT OTHERS SAY: Cronkite Memorial fills gap

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 | 3:22 p.m. CST

At last, native son Walter Cronkite will receive due recognition in his hometown.

A memorial and related exhibits about to be unveiled at Missouri Western State University honor the life of this legendary newsman who was born 97 years ago next week in St. Joseph.

The dedication ceremony Monday falls on what would have been Mr. Cronkite's birthday.

While St. Joseph proudly has claimed Mr. Cronkite, known to generations as "the most trusted man in America," the city has lacked any site solely devoted to his legacy for local residents to appreciate and tourists to visit. The new memorial fills that need, but as more than a mere marker, it will be an interactive exhibit.

Features include a photographic display of historical events Mr. Cronkite covered as an anchor for the "CBS Evening News," a replica of the glider he flew in while covering World War II, a kiosk playing videos of Mr. Cronkite's broadcasts, and a touch screen video highlighting his personal life.

The memorial elevates Western's role as a cultural destination and enhances the campus.

Leah Spratt Hall will be open seven days a week to accommodate visitors to The Walter Cronkite Memorial. As part of the U.S. Highway 36 "Highway of American Genius," the memorial fits nicely along regional museums honoring Missouri greats Mark Twain, J.C. Penney, Gen. John Pershing and Walt Disney.

The unveiling of the memorial, free and open to the public, is at 10:30 a.m. Monday in the atrium of Spratt Hall. A luncheon that day will feature Mr. Cronkite's cousin, former Kansas City Mayor Kay Cronkite Barnes. An open house is planned from 1 to 6 p.m.

These events are appropriate to the moment. Mr. Cronkite was a giant in journalism, in television, in public life. It's fitting that his hometown joins in telling his story to the world.

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