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It's a beautiful day in the U.S. House as Congress honors Fred Rogers

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

By Ann McFeatters, Post-Gazette Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- The House last night unanimously passed a resolution honoring children's television personality Fred Rogers, who died last week of stomach cancer at the age of 74.

Speaking on the floor as he donned a red cardigan much like the trademark one Rogers used to wear on his show, "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Swissvale, sponsor of the resolution, talked about Rogers' determination to convince his audience of children that they were all special and noted that his was the longest- running program on Public Broadcasting System with nearly 900 episodes over 33 years.

Doyle talked about puppet characters Rogers created such as King Friday XIII and Henrietta Pussycat in "perhaps the most famous neighborhood in the world."

Later, off the floor of the House, Doyle said: "Fred Rogers was such a nice guy. Our world has lost one of its most loving and caring helpers. I was glad to point out what few Americans knew: that Pittsburgh was Mr. Rogers' neighborhood."

Rep. Melissa Hart, R-Bradford Woods, carried a small toy trolley, popularized on Rogers' show, as she spoke about him.

"He was a uniter in a world of dividers. He was kind in a world of cynics," she said. "He set an example that every parent wishes they could set for their children. Hopefully, through television generations of children will still enjoy Mr. Rogers."

Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, extolled Rogers' lack of facade and pretense and said the House was celebrating his life, dedication to quality early childhood education and legacy "so future generations will know about this moment in time and what we value."

Rep. John Peterson, R-Warren, said all Pennsylvanians are proud of Fred Rogers. "He had a calmness and love that changed the atmosphere of every room he entered."

A White House spokesman said, "Fred Rogers was an American institution. He brought learning and joy to millions of children over the last several decades. His contribution to the fabric of our society will live on in our memories for years to come."

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