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Press Statement 09-003

Remembering Walter Cronkite

July 23, 2009

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

The following is a statement by Arden L. Bement, Jr., Director, National Science Foundation.

As the funeral for Walter Cronkite is held today in New York, we at the National Science Foundation want to add our voices to the many others who have saluted the veteran journalist and broadcaster. As the anchor of the CBS Evening News from 1961 and managing editor from 1963 until he retired in 1981, Cronkite brought the news of the world into our homes, often during turbulent times in America's history. He was the one who told many of us of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Much has been said and written about the impact of Cronkite's extensive reporting on Civil Rights, the country's involvement in Vietnam, the Watergate scandal that led to the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon, and, of course, America's daring journey into space and landing on the moon.

Cronkite's enthusiasm for science extended beyond aeronautics and space. In 1982, he accompanied marine biologists aboard the Alvin on a deep-sea dive off the coast of Mexico. In 2000, he remembered the adventure in the foreword for America's Investment in the Future, a book NSF published to mark the agency's 50th anniversary. He began: "It may seem ironic that I--a man who failed first-year physics at the University of Texas--am writing the foreword to a book about the National Science Foundation." The admitted non-scientist went on to commend NSF for funding the "kind of exploratory research that quietly plants seeds today that make headlines tomorrow." And, he expressed appreciation for the years of trial and error, experimentation and analysis put forth by men and women dedicated to bringing about a better understanding of the world around us.

Cronkite took news seriously, and for him, news included science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The person many people called "the most trusted man in America" provided a remarkable example of how to communicate science broadly.

Our thoughts are with his family and friends.


Media Contacts
Dana Topousis, NSF, (703) 292-7750, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2020 budget of $8.3 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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