By Matthew Brooks
The impact of Fred Rogers, aka Mr. Rogers, is still felt sixteen years after his death.
Mr. Rogers is known to have said that the numbers 1-4-3 were special numbers. He is known to have said:
“It takes one letter to say I and four letters to say love and three letters to say you. One hundred and forty-three.”
The impact of Mr. Rogers’ message of love is still remembered.
The governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolfe, declared that Thursday, May 23, to be “1-4-3 Day.” May 23 is the 143rd day of the year.
Mr. Rogers had a multi-generational influence on children. His show aired from 1968 to 2001.
His show “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” is still airing on PBS stations nationwide.
Prior the “Neighborhood” he was part of show in 1954 called “The Children’s Corner.”
This show was started in the infancy of public television. On “The Children’s Corner” Rogers was a puppeteer. Many of his famous puppets like King Friday XIII and Daniel Tiger had their origins on this show.
The show “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” would, among many things, become known for Rogers’ theme weeks, where a specific issue would be addressed.
In 1979, the show featured its first theme week, “Going to School.”
Mr. Rogers used the “Going to School” series of episodes to address the anxiety children can feel about beginning school.
Learning how to cope with various fears, anxieties, and other emotional challenges was a centerpiece of his long-running show.
Mr. Rogers also used the show to express his philosophy about love and caring.
Beginning in 1971, Mr. Rogers placed his song, “It’s You I Like” into many episodes.
The song reinforced concepts of loving oneself and the awareness that a person’s value is not determined by “the things that hide you, not your toys– They’re just beside you.”
Instead, Rogers sings that he hopes that we all remember that “Every part of you, your skin, your eyes, your feelings whether old or new” are worthy of love and appreciation.
Rogers is credited with writing more than 200 songs for the show.
The importance of the 1-4-3 numbers to Fred Rogers became part of his identity. He had said that he maintained the weight of 143 lbs for the final thirty years of his life.
Mr. Rogers died in 2003 but his message of love lives on.