by Savannah Christian
“In the moment, that is where you want to be. And in the moment, with what little time one has to think…I found myself really literally wanting to pinch myself.” Those are the words I heard Dan Rather speak in an interview with KETR as he described his emotions as he reported on events such as Vietnam and Watergate — two of the many earth-shattering events he has covered. As I sat in the corner of the KETR studio only three feet away from the man who has informed me of every major news event that has occurred in my lifetime, fully enveloped in the moment, I began to think “somebody pinch me.”
I never thought I would meet Dan Rather, much less sit in an interview with him, walk him across the A&M-Commerce campus or dine in his presence. But, on April 17, those doubts were dispelled as I spent my entire evening in the shadow of the inspirational Dan Rather.
When the renowned reporter walked into the KETR studio and shook my hand, he instantly became more than the man who replaced Walter Cronkite on CBS Evening News or the iconic presence on 60 Minutes — he became a mentor, personifying the same aspirations as me.
As Rather recounted witnessing events such as the Kennedy assassination and 9/11, I was awestruck. He spoke of his beginnings in the news business, and how he prayed for God to send him the “big story” and to help him be on his “A” game when he did. I realized that 60 years ago the greatly esteemed and otherwise brilliant Dan Rather started out in a very similar position to what I am in now. What big shoes we aspiring journalists have to fill.
When I looked around the small studio and recognized that I, an aspiring journalist about to graduate from college in only a few weeks, was witnessing Scott Harvey, a young man just embarking on his broadcast career, interview an icon of our field I realized for the first time the magnitude of the situation I was in. I, a young woman who can only dream of having a fraction of the success Dan Rather has seen in his lifetime, was sitting in the presence of a legend in the field of journalism, and would have several opportunities to mingle with him face-to-face throughout the evening. In that moment, as the words “pinch me” scrolled through my mind, I was suddenly aware of the rare opportunities I have enjoyed.
If it wasn’t for the numerous experiences that Texas A&M University-Commerce has afforded me in my time spent here, I would never have been given a chance to sit across from Dan Rather, whether it was in a studio, at dinner or in an auditorium filled with more than 800 people. To have such a personal experience with one of the greats in journalism history is a gift I might never be able to top. If I never have another “pinch me” moment with someone of that magnitude, it will be all right, because the moments the university has given me will be enough to last me a lifetime.