By no means I was a regular viewer of Peter Jennings' daily news show in ABC. But growing up in America for many years now, like many others, made me see Peter Jennings, Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw as part of my life, as if they were close relatives from elderly generation. People dies everyday, every moment death shows its ultimate triumph over human flesh. One's dearest ones pass away from diseases, wars, famine, road accidents or other reasons. And grief overcomes us with its unforgettable sadness. Living in a world where symbolism shapes our daily existence, the symbol of these three great news anchors, no matter how one may feel opposed or agreed to their varied views and opinions, has profound influence over our growing up, especially in this corner of globe.
Everyday, coming back from work or University, thirsty from scorching Texas sun, I used to turn on the television, while grabbing the quick evening meal and full glass of water, and there they were, the anchors of our time, Jennings, Rather and Brokow, in three different channels, beaming with confidences in their voices, looking at us from thousands of miles away through the waves of modernity pouring from that tiny box, that glued me to their coverings of daily news from around the world for so many years. Surfing from one channel to other, switching among these three anchors, different perspectives of any recent events I used to gather, their voices made me sort through all the chaotic events of our world, their smiling goodbyes at the end of every show gave me subliminal hope for a new better world tomorrow, though however raw optimism involved in those emotions that seem quite bleak these days.
My first introduction to Peter Jennings was through my aunt in my very first full day in North America. I still remember what she said to me in that summer evening in Texas, in Bengali, that sums up as the following: "I see Peter Jennings' show, because he seems trustworthy to me."
News anchors of major Television channels, they have large groups of journalists, media analysts and other behind the scene actors, executives with various political and business interests involved that play vital roles that most of us are not aware of, but the faces of these anchors grab hold of our memory for good. The conclusion of each show that Peter Jennings anchored had universal message of peace in various forms and shape, that conservatives may from time to time mocked at due to his liberal outlook of our world, but it did touch a chord for most Americans, new immigrants and older ones alike, I believe.
Life goes on, as it will surely go on for most human beings. New face replaces the old ones. Newer, more pressing and emergent world events of our day will take us to shift our attention to various directions. Peter Jennings' face will fade from our memory as time goes on. There is no wonder, as one's dearest ones' faces slip away to the periphery of forgetfulness. Out of sight, out of mind. Sad but true. However, Mr. Jennings' and two of his contemporary news anchors, "the big three" as some used to describe them, will surely invoke past sweet memories for many of us, who are fortunate to witness one of the "greatest generation" of news anchors, along with Larry King, Peter Mansbridge, Jim Lehrer, Ted Koppel and a few others of their caliber in Western media, sometimes obnoxious in dodging the truth, and sometimes showing great foresight, and in their regular sincere compassions for the plight of human beings, they indeed inspired many new generation of emerging thinkers and activists for a better world.
The truth is, like many of his millions of grieving viewers across the globe, I will deeply miss Peter Jennings. His sudden announcement of cancer and death is too shocking for many of us.