Miller Center

Riding The Tiger

“I discovered that being a President is like riding a tiger. A man has to keep on riding or be swallowed.” Harry S. Truman

Lessons from Mr. Rogers, Relevant Still

Mr. Rogers’ Robert F. Kennedy Assassination Special, 1968

The tragedy in Newtown has set a tone of grieving throughout the United States. As the nation grapples to formulate a response and heal, we think back to other tragic times in American history and attempt to learn from—or, at least, acknowledge—their role in shaping our national consciousness at the time.

Embedded here is a clip from episode of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood following the assassination of RFK in 1968. In this clip, Daniel the lion talks to Betty about life and tragedy. It begins with a balloon, segues into a conversation about "What does 'assassination' mean?," and ends with a message from Fred Rogers about how we all deal with sadness differently.

From Mr. Rogers himself (beginning 6:10):

“I've been terribly concerned about the graphic display of violence which the mass media has been showing recently, and I plead for your protection and support of your young children. There's just so much that a very young child can take without it being overwhelming to him. I've been, very frankly, quite concerned about it, and that's one of the reasons I wanted to talk to you today. The best thing in the world is for your children to be included in your family ways of coping with the problems that present themselves any time… but particularly now, in this very difficult time in our nation.”

He goes on to describe different ways a family might deal with their grief: attending a church, walking by a river, putting "a strong arm" around those you love.

Video courtesy Fred Rogers Center, all rights reserved.