March 30, 2020
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No matter how dark life seemed, Rogers was
a constant, comforting light who went out of his way to make the world less scary. But according to some rumors, he might have
once been one of the scariest parts of it. It’s about as evocative an image as can be
imagined: Fred Rogers staring down the scope of a high powered rifle, his tattoo-covered
arms gleaming with jungle sweat. Just another day in the neighborhood…of
Vietnam. Chances are, this all sounds at least vaguely
familiar, thanks to the Internet age and an early-2000s enthusiasm for forwarding interesting
nonsense to all your coworkers. “Duck, duck, birdie? Hahaha! That’s very funny.” For the record, though, there’s a relieving
truth to be told about the rumors surrounding Fred Rogers, the host of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood
and godfather of common decency. Difficult though it may be to believe, Rogers
was never a military sniper, or a military anything. During the Vietnam war, his supposed playground
of death in the long-running urban legend, he was busy, you know, being Mister Rogers. From 1963 to 1967, he had his first children’s
television show, broadcast by the Canadian Broadcasting Company. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood started running
in 1968, and kept going until 2001. During that time, he was also working as a
Presbyterian minister. That didn’t give him a lot of time to ponder
over the horrors of war. “Welcome, neighbor. To this television neighborhood” According to a biographical article posted
by the National Archives, Rogers registered for the draft at age 20, but was deemed unfit
for service two years later. And for all of the rumors that he constantly
wore long sleeves to cover his inked up arms, it’s possible to do a three second Google
image search and realize that no, his arms weren’t covered in tattoos. So why have lies about Mister Rogers become
so pervasive in the years since his passing? Well, to paraphrase Norman Osborn, the one
thing the internet loves more than a hero is to see a hero fall. “In spite of everything you’ve done for them,
eventually they will hate you. Why bother?” If the last few years have taught us anything,
it’s that at any given moment, we are an early morning Twitter check away from having our
pop culture heroes redefined as deviant monsters, but Fred Rogers seems to have been the exception
to the rule. In the decade and a half since he passed away,
the becardiganed icon has somehow held up when viewed through the lens of history, presumably
because, plot twist, he really was just an excellent guy. “Well you learn something different every
day, don’t you?” Maybe that’s why rumors about Mister Rogers’
clandestine lifestyle have been so prevalent over the years. The legends of his bloodsoaked military service
have been circulating for more than a decade, sometimes bringing Captain Kangaroo into the
mix in sort of a children’s television Expendables mash up. Rogers’ fictional tattoos almost always make
an appearance. And of course, there will always be the oft-recirculated
stills of Fred holding two middle fingers up to the heavens, grinning from ear to ear. It certainly looks jarring when you take it
out of context, but he was just singing “Where Is Thumbkin?” Rogers is far from the only children’s TV
personality to be plagued by internet rumors over the years. Similar lies about the actor or actors who
played Barney have made the rounds, stating that they overdosed or were caught smuggling
drugs in the outfit’s tail, among other stories. And of course, there was Steve Burns, the
man who helped Blue track down Clues for six years. After his departure from Blue’s Clues, Burns
was rumored to have died of a heroin overdose when, in reality, he was busy recording a
pretty killer indie album with members of the Flaming Lips. Not everyone waltzes into family friendly
entertainment with a squeaky clean reputation, of course. Let us never forget that Bob Ross spent several
years pointing out subordinates’ happy accidents in the Air Force as a hard-nosed drill sergeant. But when it comes to Mister Rogers, the neighborhood
streets are as clean and wholesome as always, and we can finally retire those rumors about
the lovable TV host raising hell in the heart of darkness. “No one person can do everything.” Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Grunge videos about your favorite
celebs are coming soon. Subscribe to our YouTube channel and hit the
bell so you don’t miss a single one.

Tony wyaad