Mr. Rogers Neighborhood

Happy birthday, Mr. Rogers

March 20, 2012 at 12:17 PM ET

GENE J. PUSKAR / AP
**FILE**Fred Rogers rehearses the opening of his PBS show "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" during a taping June 28, 1989, in Pittsburgh.(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

He's been gone nearly a decade now, but somehow it still seems fitting to remember Fred Rogers on what would have been his 84th birthday.

When you grow up, you have to change a lot of the opinions you held about people and things you first encountered as a child. People fail you, jobs and schools have their bad sides, you outgrow beloved activities and hobbies.

But Fred Rogers never failed anyone. He remains in our memories as the same wonderfully kind, gentle man who took off his shoes on the set of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" and comforted Daniel Striped Tiger in The Neighborhood of Make-Believe.

In 2000, Rogers told Rob Owen of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that "Those of us in broadcasting have a special calling to give whatever we feel is the most nourishing that we can for our audience. We are servants of those who watch and listen."

Just look at a TV listing these days. It's pretty obvious not everyone feels that way about the TV shows they make, whether they're for the preschool set or for older, more jaded audiences.

He also told Newsweek, " "One of the greatest gifts you can give anybody is the gift of your honest self. I also believe that kids can spot a phony a mile away."

They can indeed, and there was nothing phony about Mr. Rogers, not ever.

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