Can you imagine Mr. Rogers, the popular children's entertainer, perched on a guard tower and looking through his rifle scope to focus on an unfortunate target? Apparently, this is what Mr. Roger's military career was like because he was a sniper before he finally started a career in television.
This story is obviously quite inconsistent with what people think about him.
To most people, Fred Rogers is the endearing host of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. With his constant smile and friendly demeanor, it's hard to imagine that he had a macho reputation in a past life as Mr. Rogers' military career rumors imply.
Rumors suggest that Mr. Rogers was a military sniper. Understandably, this is something a lot of people can't wrap their heads around.
Nevertheless, records indicate that Mr. Rogers was drafted into the military in 1948. But was he as badass as the rumors suggest?
Today, we will learn the truth about Mr. Rogers' military career.
Who Was The Real Fred Rogers?
Rumors about Mr. Rogers' military career could get some credence from the fact that he was definitely an orderly and disciplined man, essential traits in a soldier. However, his opinions and life choices imply that claims of him being a sniper or a Navy SEAL are pretty far-fetched.
Before we can debunk any myths about Mr. Rogers, it is crucial to look at some facts.
Fred Rogers was born in Pennsylvania in 1928, and he was a sickly child who apparently suffered from every childhood disease imaginable, including scarlet fever and asthma.
His mother was a volunteer at the hospital, and his father worked at a brick company.
As a result, young Rogers spent a lot of time in isolation. However, he used these moments to cultivate his creativity. For instance, to have some company, he made puppets.
So, from early on, it was clear that Rogers was destined to be an entertainer. That is what makes the rumor about Mr. Rogers' military career so fascinating.
In fact, he graduated high school and went on to get a degree in music composition from Rollins College in Florida. Television was coming of age when he graduated, and he decided to get into the field with a focus on creating educational and valuable content.
Was Fred Rogers Pretending To Be Good?
Facts suggest that Mr. Rogers was as good as he claimed to be. To begin with, Mr. Rogers did not smoke or drink, and he was a vegetarian because he could not eat "anything that has a mother."
He also often said that we should never have to fear the truth and that truth should be the foundation of our lives.
Mr. Rogers was also quite outspoken in his opinions against war. He compared it to a form of child abuse. As far as he was concerned, "sending a mother or father of a young child off to war would be traumatic for that child."
Needless to say, this does not sound like the kind of man who would have had a fearsome military career. He advocated that we aim to create a generation that was not abused by war because those who suffer abuse when young end up as adult abusers.
By all accounts, Mr. Rogers was as clean as anyone can hope to be. There wasn't any indication that he had a violent bone in his body.
Granted, his signature appearance made him look pretty harmless too. Mr. Rogers wore hand-knitted sweaters made by his mother.
According to legend, although Mr. Rogers looked like someone whose lifelong passion was entertaining kids, he was a Navy SEAL before his successful military career. He apparently also had many confirmed kills and the tattoos to prove it.
Mr. Rogers' Entry Into Television
Mr. Rogers started his career in television with NBC in New York. From there, he went back to Pennsylvania, his hometown, before moving to Canada. He ended up in Pittsburgh from Canada, where he got rights to his show, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.
While in Pittsburgh, he decided to devote his life to entertaining children and taking care of their mental health. At one point, he attended seminary school on a part-time basis and actually got ordained as a Presbyterian minister.
He stayed on our screens for 31 glorious seasons with his popular show until he tragically succumbed to stomach cancer in 2003.
Was Mr. Rogers' Military Career Real?
Legend claims that Mr. Rogers' military career included being a sniper and possibly a Navy SEAL before his famous career as a TV host. Allegedly, he was in the Vietnam War, where he racked up several confirmed kills. He was also allegedly quite proud of the kills and got a tattoo for each confirmed kill, hence his love for long sleeves later in life.
Strangely, these rumors have been around for many years, even before social media made them more popular.
The fact is that Mr. Rogers registered for the draft of September 13, 1948. At the time, he was 20 years old. However, he was given a "1A" classification. That meant he was available to take part in military service.
Also notable is that in 1950, during his last year in college, he was found unqualified for military service and categorized as "4F." It is not clear why he failed, and in all likelihood, no one will ever know the truth since the records have since been destroyed.
Based on his draft status, it is clear that the chances of Mr. Rogers' military career ever taking off were pretty much nil. Additionally, as he was busy learning about music and teaching children about kindness and understanding, the U.S. fought in Japan, Korea, Europe, and Vietnam.
Other certainties about his life make rumors about Mr. Rogers' military career even less likely.
For instance, Navy SEALs were formed in 1962, the same year he launched Misterogers, eventually followed by Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. In any case, no ground troops were ever sent to Vietnam until 1965. At the time, he could not have enlisted in the army as he was already too old.
Also, Navy SEALs can't be colorblind, and Mr. Rogers suffered from red-green colorblindness.
In any case, there was no break in his television career that would have accounted for the fabled Mr. Rogers' military career, however brief. Furthermore, those who knew him didn't know anything about his life in the military.
If anything, he had a reputation as a pacifist and had a strong anti-war stance, which he promoted through his show. He was constantly speaking against violence and his opposition to the Vietnam War.
Nonetheless, the rumor about Mr. Rogers' military career has been so widespread that the Navy SEALs have gone to the trouble of explaining that Mr. Rogers was never in the military through their website.
How Did Mr. Rogers' Military Career Rumor Begin?
There is a theory as to how the rumor about Mr. Rogers' military career began. There was another Fred Rogers in the military, who was a Marine and also a sharpshooter.
He also set up a security business and founded a website called FredRogers.com. People found the website, although it was taken down soon after.
The confusion ended up creating a notorious rumor about Mr. Rogers being a sniper in the military. The myth about Mr. Rogers' military career spread quickly because people thought it was amusing that he would have such a history, considering how popular he was as a pacifist.
In Addition To Mr. Rogers' Military Career, There Are Other Legends About Him
A badass Mr. Rogers' military career is not the only myth floating around about the beloved celebrity. Apparently, he once flipped a double bird to children on the show during the song, Where is Thumbkin?.
The song goes through all the fingers on the hand, including the middle finger, named "Mr. Tallman."
He also allegedly taught children the satanic devil sign, but the truth is that the sign looks a lot like "I love you" in sign language.
However, the worst gossip about him claimed he was a convicted child molester. The rumor claimed that he was doing the children's show as part of his community service. The fact that he was a child molester also explained why kids were not allowed on the set with him.
Again, this rumor was proved false because no accusation has ever been made against him. It is also quite strange that people would believe anyone would be allowed to have a career on television with such a terrible record. Not to mention being involved in making a children's TV show.
Where Do All These Rumors Come From?
Experts have tried to explain why there would be such ridiculous rumors about Mr. Rogers. Apparently, rumors make people seem more intriguing.
Therefore, because Mr. Rogers seems like a very peace-loving and stand-up man, rumors that suggest he has a violent past can seem quite exciting, especially the allegation that he was an unrepentant killer. That is why the story about Mr. Rogers' military career focuses so much on the fact that he was a sniper.
All these terrible rumors confirmed that Mr. Rogers had some excellent treats. The stories also say more about our society than they do about him. The rumors are all based on the "too good to be true" mentality.
Clearly, Mr. Rogers was a great man who was as good as anyone could hope to be. The disparaging rumors about Mr. Rogers' military career found traction because people want drama. Mr. Rogers was squeaky-clean, just as he seemed, which is why he is considered the godfather of common decency.
In fact, Mr. Rogers was even better than he seemed. For instance, he made powerful statements about race and valued all his fans by responding to their mail.
Some people have clearly recognized that he was an honorable man, so today, an asteroid is named after him. He also managed to win the presidential medal of honor during George W. Bush's presidency in 2002, a year before his death.