Okay, he didn’t directly cause me to turn on the waterworks, but it is, without question, his fault. It was, after all, an item I found through his “Check It” that precipitated my tears.

As usual, I have some ‘splainin’ to do. Periodically, I visit The Art of Blogging Without Blogging to see Western Dave’s photos – sometimes lovely, sometimes whimsical, sometimes bizarre… Then I take a look at his “Check It” list. The title inspires me, despite my status as “Whitest Woman in the World,” to sing (just in my mind – never fear – only a half-crazy impulse) “Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch CHECK IT OUT! Wha-wha-wha-wha What’s it all about?” Inexcusable, I realize.

Last week or so a tidbit about Mister Rogers caught my eye. Thursday, March 20th would have been Mister Rogers’ eightieth birthday. Western Dave linked to the following announcement about wearing one’s favourite sweater that day. Please watch it; it’s Mr. McFeely after all (and just so you know, HE’S NOT REALLY OLD. I’d rather not admit MY age when I learned about that). Here’s some additional information concerning the event:

In honor of what would have been Mister Rogers’ 80th birthday on March 20, Mr. McFeely — aka David Newell, the public relations director for Family Communications, Inc. (the nonprofit company founded in 1971 by Fred Rogers) — has a special request.

“We’re asking everyone (including members of the media) everywhere (from Pittsburgh to Paris) to wear their favorite sweater on that day,” he asks. “It doesn’t have to have a zipper down the front like the one Mister Rogers wore on the program, it just has to be special to you.”

Sweater Day is part of Pittsburgh’s 250th anniversary celebration and the first-ever “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” Days March 15 — 20.

“We wanted to recognize Fred in a way that would reflect his deep appreciation of what it means to be a caring neighbor,” explains FCI’s Margy Whitmer.

As a result, “‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” Days was born as a means of promoting neighborliness throughout Fred Rogers’ own backyard — Southwestern Pennsylvania region.

Throughout WYBMND more than 30 organizations have signed up to participate.

For more information about Sweater Day and “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” Days visit www.misterrogers.org.

This project supported in part by Pittsburgh 250 Community Connections and The Sprout Fund.”

After watching Mr. McFeely, I watched Mister Rogers in couple of videos. The footage of him testifying in front of Congress in 1969 is just amazing. With a gentle spirit but perfect candor – and in less than ten minutes – he prevented a grant for the Corporation of Public Broadcasting from being cut in half. Quintessential Fred Rogers. Kind, honest and compassionate to everyone he encountered.

Some people don’t get it. His genuine and unparalleled sincerity was and is so rare; perhaps that’s why some people just can’t buy it. They should watch this:

Sitting alone in the middle of the night, only part-way through a minute and twenty-five seconds of film, I found tears streaming down my face. This is the section that hit me the hardest:

I’m just so proud of all of you who have grown up with us. And I know how tough it is some days to look with hope and confidence on the months and years ahead. But I would like to tell you what I often told you when you were much younger: I like you just the way you are.

I like you just the way you are.
In memory of Mister Fred McFeely Rogers, 1928 – 2003.