Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipient Mr. Fred Rogers
President George W. Bush presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Fred Rogers yesterday in a ceremony in the East Room of the White House.
Learn more about this Kind Gentleman and visit Mister Rogers' Neighborhood
It certainly was a "beautiful day in the Neighborhood" when Fred Rogers was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom!
Created in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy, the Medal of Freedom is the nation's highest civilian honor. It recognizes individuals who have made "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States or to world peace or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."
The text of Fred Rogers� Medal of Freedom citation reads:
Fred Rogers has entertained and educated children for more than 30 years through his extraordinary public television program, �Mister Rogers� Neighborhood.� His program helps children understand caring, safety, and respect for others, and his legendary commitment to young people has been an enriching part of American life. The United States honors Fred Rogers for his dedication to the well-being of children, his faith, his family, and his community, and for a career that demonstrates the importance of kindness, compassion, and learning. In presenting the Medal of Freedom to Fred Rogers at a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, President George W. Bush said:
Fred Rogers has proven that television can sooth the soul and nurture the spirit and teach the very young. "The whole idea," says the beloved host of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood , "is to look at the television camera and present as much love as you possibly could to a person who needs it." This message of unconditional love has won Fred Rogers a very special place in the heart of a lot of moms and dads all across America. The Presidential Medal of Freedom attests to Fred Rogers� lifetime of service to children and families. Fred Rogers graduated from Rollins College with a degree in music composition in 1951. In 1953 he began his work in children�s television programming by developing a children�s show called The Children�s Corner. It was there that many of the characters from Mister Rogers� Neighborhood made their first appearances. It was also during that time that Rogers went back to school and was ordained as a Presbyterian minister with the charge to continue his work with children and families through the media.
Mister Rogers� Neighborhood made its national debut on public television in 1968. Since then, this pre-eminent series has been recognized internationally as a unique and pioneering effort to communicate with young children about things that matter in childhood. Fred Rogers has been the recipient of every major award in television and education, and has received honorary degrees from more than 40 colleges and universities.
Fred Rogers is currently chairman of Family Communications, Inc., the nonprofit company that he formed in 1971 to produce Mister Rogers� Neighborhood . The company has since diversified into non-broadcast educational materials that reflect the same philosophy and purpose: to encourage the healthy emotional growth of children and their families.
Children's TV host Fred Rogers
Fresh Air , November 13, 2002
His popular show Mister Rogers' Neighborhood was the longest-running program on public television. It ran 33 years and ended its run in 2001. Rogers is the author of the new book, The Mister Rogers Parenting Book: Helping to Understand Your Young Child . (Running Press). Fred Rogers' Biography
Fred McFeely Rogers was born in 1928 in the western Pennsylvania town of Latrobe about an
hour's drive east of Pittsburgh. Rogers attended Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida where he majored in music composition. Upon his graduation in 1951, Rogers was hired by NBC as an assistant producer on The Voice of Firestone. He later worked there as floor director for The Lucky Strike Hit Parade, The Kate Smith Hour, and the NBC Opera Theatre. He was married in 1952 to Joanne Byrd, a pianist and fellow Rollins graduate.
In November 1953, Rogers moved back to Pittsburgh at the request of WQED, the nation's first community-supported public television station. The station was not yet on the air, and Rogers was asked to develop the program schedule for the following year. One of the programs he developed was called
The Children's Corner. It was a freewheeling, live, hour-long visit with puppets and host Josie Carey, another Pittsburgher. In addition to co-producing the program, Rogers also served as puppeteer and musician. In 1955 the program series won the Sylvania Award for the best locally produced children's program in the country and remained on the air for a total of seven years.
It was on The Children's Corner that several regulars of today's Mister Rogers
Neighborhood made their first appearances - among them, Daniel Striped Tiger, King Friday XIII, X the Owl, and Lady Elaine Fairchilde.
During off-duty hours, Rogers attended both the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Child Development. He was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1963 with a charge to continue his work with children and families through the media.
Opportunity led Rogers to Toronto later that year. There he created a children's series of fifteen-minute episodes called MisteRogers and made his on-camera debut as the program's host. He chose to return to Pittsburgh and in 1966, at WQED, he incorporated the fifteen-minute segments into a half-hour format. The new series was distributed by the Eastern Educational Network until 1968 when it was made available for national distribution through the Public Broadcasting Service.
Also in 1968 Rogers was appointed Chairman of the Forum on Mass Media and Child Development of the White House Conference on Youth. Besides two George Foster Peabody Awards, Emmys, "Lifetime Achievement" Awards from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the TV Critics Association,
Fred Rogers has received every major award in television for which he is eligible and many others from special-interest groups in education, communications, and early childhood. In 1999, he was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame. His life and work have been the subject of feature articles in national publications, including Life, Reader's Digest, Parents, Esquire, Parade, and TV Guide.
Honorary degrees have been awarded to Fred Rogers at more than 35 colleges and universities, including Yale University, Hobart and William Smith, Carnegie Mellon University, Boston University, University of Pittsburgh, North Carolina State University, University of Connecticut, and his alma mater, Rollins College.
Rogers is chairman of Family Communications, Inc., the nonprofit company that he formed in 1971 to produce Mister Rogers Neighborhood and that has since diversified into nonbroadcast materials that reflect the same philosophy and purpose: to encourage the healthy emotional growth of children and their families. Almost 900 episodes of Mister Rogers Neighborhood have been produced, and Rogers continues to add new episodes to the series, adding freshness and intimacy to what has now become the longest-running program on public television.
Fred Rogers and his wife live in Pittsburgh and have two married sons and two grandsons, born in 1988 and 1993.
1928 - Fred McFeely Rogers is born.
1951 - Graduates from Rollins College and is hired by NBC.
1952 - Marries Joanne Byrd.
1953 - Develops The Children's Corner.
1963 - Is ordained as a Presbyterian minister.
1968 - Mister Rogers debuts on PBS.
1971 - Forms Family Communications, Inc.
Mr. Fred Rogers is awarded our nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom , for his "extraordinary public television program...his legendary commitment to young people...and a career that demonstrates the importance of kindness, compassion and learning."
President George W. Bush greets Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers Neighborhood in the Blue Room of the White House before an early childhood education event in the East Room April 3, 2002.
President George W. Bush, right, prepares to place the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Fred Rogers, left, star of ''Mr. Rogers Neighborhood,'' a children's show now in reruns after Rogers' retirement, which is the longest running program on public television, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Tuesday, July 9, 2002, in Washington
Visit the Pictorial Tribute to Mister Rogers