Fifty-one years ago today, Fred Rogers stepped into a small, staged living room to film the first episode of his iconic show, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Today, Google is celebrating that anniversary with a touching, stop-motion animated video Doodle that pays tribute to the man in the cardigan.
Head to the search engine's homepage today, click on the video, and you'll hear the instrumental opening notes of a theme song recognizable to anyone who came of age from the late 1960s through 2001, when the final episode of the show aired. What follows is a minute-and-a-half-long video that emphasizes the creativity, imagination, inclusivity, and kindness Rogers fostered throughout his years on air, inviting anyone to be his neighbor. (There's also a cameo from X the Owl.)
Rogers was born in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, in 1928. He studied music composition in college and later took graduate courses in child development. He was also ordained as a Presbyterian minister. Despite his widespread reach, he never used his platform to preach. Instead, as countless profiles and real-life anecdotes touch on, he served as a comforting and kind man-next-door who welcomed everyone, regardless of their faith.
Rogers' words extended far beyond the screen and remain relevant to this day. As an NPR profile points out, his quotes offered solace after the Sandy Hook shooting as well as last year, after the bombing at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. He knew how to create a safe space for everyone and spoke to those who felt troubled when they needed it most.