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Remembering Peter: “The Most Important Message He Could Ever Pass On”

jenningssitting.jpgJamie Frevele — who coined the term “Fishtern” and contributes to cousin FishBowlNY — makes an important point about Peter Jennings in an essay tonight: Even in death, Jennings is communicating an important message to millions of viewers.

“Peter Jennings brought back a human story through which so many of us have lived, and for a stoic public figure to share this experience with us was perhaps the most important message he could ever pass onto us. Cancer awareness, future research for cures and prevention, recognizing symptoms, and getting tested and treated before it’s too late. (And, in Jennings’ case, an incentive to quit smoking.) Jennings gave us a gift by sharing this with his viewers, and allowed us to see the man beyond the esteemed news anchor.”

Read her full essay, after the jump…




I joke a lot about my crushes on newsmen — how I’ve “moved on” from actors to more steadfast, reliable personalities who give us the good word, the bad word, and everything in between, doing their duty to keep us in the loop to the best of their abilities. Maybe that sounds like a mythological creature to some, and I admit, it’s a bit “generous” of me to tout what is seen by some as a flawed – even corrupt – institution. But when something hits so close to home, one can’t help but invite these men (and women) over to our human side.

Peter Jennings sadly never got the chance to return to the air as he had intended, but he still kept us informed of his condition as often as he could. He was still there, keeping us in the loop. The truth is, I really never watched Peter Jennings, but the parallels I drew between Jennings and my own late grandfather, who fought his own battle with an aggressive and unforgiving form of cancer, could not be ignored.

Both men were tall without being imposing, had reassuring voices, didn’t take themselves too seriously, but still knew well their responsibilities. They were also both stubborn, seemingly unwilling to admit that the nagging symptoms they were having were serious problems, so they ignored them until it was too much (probably more for their families than them) to live with. And so both of them fought. They were diagnosed and faced their respective challenges, enduring the drugs, the fatigue, the sickness, and, in the end, the final sobering prognosis and the pain it caused our families.

Peter Jennings brought back a human story through which so many of us have lived, and for a stoic public figure to share this experience with us was perhaps the most important message he could ever pass onto us. Cancer awareness, future research for cures and prevention, recognizing symptoms, and getting tested and treated before it’s too late. (And, in Jennings’ case, an incentive to quit smoking.) Jennings gave us a gift by sharing this with his viewers, and allowed us to see the man beyond the esteemed news anchor.

My favorite clip of Peter Jennings is seeing him cover New Year’s Eve in a black bow tie, basically enjoying a laid-back broadcast, and the picture of class and professionalism. This is how I will think of Peter Jennings — manning the anchor desk in a black bow tie, relishing these serene, yet still exhilarating moments. Let us salute a man who loved his job, did it well, and did it for everyone.

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