On this date in 1912, Eric Sevareid was born in Velva, North Dakota. His family moved to Minot and then to Minneapolis. He was an adventurous young man. After he graduated from high school, he and a friend embarked on a canoe trip of over 2,000 miles. He wrote his first book, Canoeing with the Cree, based on this adventure.
Sevareid began his journalism career at the age of 18. He was a reporter for the Minneapolis Journal while studying political science at the University of Minnesota. He went on to study in London and then at the Sorbonne in Paris. He became the city editor of the Paris Herald Tribune. CBS hired him as a foreign correspondent. Working under the guidance of famed newsman Edward R. Murrow, Sevareid was one of the journalists known as “Murrow’s Boys.”
Sevareid was the first to report on the fall of Paris when it was surrendered to the German Army. From Paris he went to London where he covered the Battle of Britain with Murrow. In 1943 his aircraft was shot down when he was traveling to Burma. He said the only thing he saved before parachuting out of the plane was a bottle of gin. He was rescued from behind enemy lines.
During the Communist scare of the 1950s, the FBI investigated accusations that Sevareid associated with Communists while at the University of Minnesota. The FBI also alleged that Sevareid participated in a campaign against the ROTC and was involved in the Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee. There were also accusations that he raised funds to help Hollywood celebrities appearing before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. The FBI developed information documenting his “disloyal” activities, but in 1953 it was determined that there was no reason for further investigation.
Sevareid became a household name because of his commentaries on the CBS Evening News. He served in that capacity for twelve years. He was honored with Emmy and Peabody Awards.
North Dakota was always an important part of Sevareid’s life. His 1946 book Not So Wild a Dream detailed his life on the Great Plains. On April 17, 1964 he received North Dakota’s Roughrider Award. He passed away on July 9, 1992 at age 79. He was survived by his wife, two sons, and a daughter.
Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher
Encyclopedia Britannica. "http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/536385/Eric-Sevareid" http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/536385/Eric-Sevareid Accessed 16 August, 2014.