7 Beautiful Moments When Mr. Rogers Changed The World

Photo: Fotos International/Getty Images.
March 20 would have been Mr. Rogers' 88th birthday. Our neighbor passed away in 2003, but that hardly means he's forgotten.

In a 1999 interview for the Archive of American Television, Fred Rogers talked about how he wanted to be remembered after he passed. "I'd just like to be remembered for being a compassionate human being," he said with a little shrug, "who happened to be fortunate enough to be born at a time when there was this fabulous thing called television that could allow me to use all the talents that I'd been given."

But really, we were the fortunate ones. Mr. Rogers used his kindness, compassion, and patience to make the world a little bit of a happier and more welcoming place. On what would have been his birthday, we're remembering seven ways that his simple acts of caring really did change the world.
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Via jhay1's channel on YouTube.
When he made a point to always announce that he was feeding his fish.

In his book Dear Mr. Rogers, Does It Ever Rain in Your Neighborhood?: Letters to Mr. Rogers, he shared a letter from a little girl named Katie, who worried about his fish. She was blind and couldn't see when he fed them, so she asked him to say out loud when he was feeding them, so she would know.

"Since hearing from Katie, I've tried to remember to mention out loud those times that I'm feeding the fish. Over the years, I've learned so much from children and their families. I like to think we've all grown together," he wrote.
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Photo: Getty Images.
When he rode the NYC subway at rush hour and the entire subway car sang “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?" together.

A 1998 profile in Esquire shared the story of a time when Mr. Rogers, caught in the rain in New York City, took the subway instead of a cab. It was just the time when children were coming home from school and the subway car was full, but no one approached him for an autograph.

Instead, they started singing. The whole car sang "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" as the train moved through the stations.
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Via BotJunkie on YouTube.
When he told the U.S. Senate why it was so important to remind kids there was someone who cared.

In 1969, the government was threatening to cut funding to PBS. Mr. Rogers testified before the United States Senate Subcommittee on Communications to defend the network. In front of the gruff Senator John Pastore (D-RI), he talked about what he did for children. "I give an expression of care every day to each child," he said. He shared a song with the committee about learning to be mad. "What do you do with the mad that you feel?" he began.

When he was done, the Pastore paused for a moment. "I think it's wonderful," he said. "Looks like you just earned the 20 million dollars."
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Via emmys on YouTube.
When he used his Emmys speech to pay tribute to the people who have helped him (and others) along.

In 1997, Mr. Rogers won a Lifetime Achievement Award for his work with Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. But instead of taking the moment to bask in his achievement, he turned it back around and offered those watching a way to share it with him.

"Would you just take, along with me, 10 seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are," he asked. He looked at his watch and said, "I'll watch the time."
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Via fwbh on YouTube.
When he used his induction into the TV Hall of Fame to talk about how important it was to show goodness — and did it himself.

When he was inducted into the TV Hall of Fame, his introduction was given by Jeff Erlanger, a quadriplegic man who had been on his show as a child. When he came onto the stage, Mr. Rogers' face visibly lit up. He didn't even use the stairs, but climbed up on the stage to greet his friend.

"What a surprise," he said, visibly near tears. "Will you support me as I say my few words?"

Correction: A previous version of this story referred to Mr. Erlanger as paraplegic rather than quadriplegic. Refinery29 regrets the error.
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Via Start Empathy on YouTube.
When after 9/11, he reminded us that as long as we have each other, we’ll be okay.

After 9/11, America was in shock, frightened and confused. But Mr. Rogers knew that even if scary things were happening, a kind word can make it all a little more bearable.

"I'm going to tell you something I often told you when you were much younger: I like you just the way you are," he said.
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Via oku on YouTube.
Every time told us he liked us just the way we are.

Sometimes, that's all anyone really needs.