Our furry friend Elmo has played a huge role in our family and in the history of Our Dad’s Flag. He’s been with us since the beginning: in his stuffed version for hugging the day we informed the children that Our Dad would be deploying, he joined us on New Year’s Eve when we watched him on Sesame Street’s “Talk, Listen, Connect: Helping Families During Military Deployment” and in his Tickle Me! version, he helped introduce our first Our Dad’s Flag visit with Remember the Elmo! Or something like that.
Most recently Elmo appeared, on a DVD, in our mailbox to return Our Dad’s Flag after a visit to Sesame Street and more importantly with his other half, Mr. Kevin Clash. With today’s post, we will forever remember the forever-young Elmo and his Muppeteer Kevin Clash for hosting Our Dad’s Flag in support of all those in the armed forces and their families. It’s so nice to know that Elmo loves us!
Evolution of Man and Monster
At an early age, Kevin Clash realized his dream of becoming a puppeteer. His affinity for fuzzy friends blossomed during the period of unique children’s television programs in the early 70s. During this time, The Magical World of Disney was in full force and the melting pot neighborhood of Sesame Street was introduced as “experimental television.”
Clash grew up in Baltimore and his role models included Jim Henson, Frank Oz and Kermit Love. Through hard work, perseverance, dedication and the pursuit of his own happiness, Clash eventually found out how to get to Sesame Street. He has worked with all of the pros and climbed the fleece ladder of success. Today he works his dream job(s!) by being Elmo, bringing smiles, hugs and Elmo kisses to children around the world — especially the ones who need it the most.
Just like life, a puppet is what you make it
Kevin’s story is remarkable. Sure, Our Mom can keep writing and retelling stories she’s read about him but it would deny you some of the true inspiration that comes through when you watch Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey, a film by Constance Marks. This is not pre-school fare, it features a real-life evolution of what can happen when life throws you a muppet. (If you have yet to see it, go rent it on Netflix or download it on iTunes . . . now, seriously, right now! Also, buy the DVD. Actually, buy a few. Keep the extra copies on hand to give to a young adult lacking direction, or a friend who maybe lost their way in life and challenge them by saying, “See if you can get something out of this…” You’ll understand the importance of that line when you see the documentary!)
Kevin Clash is an award winning performer and director and was recently awarded the 2012 Emmy for best performer in a children’s series (Sesame Street.) According to Sesame Workshop, this award is his 21st overall Emmy (eighth as a performer and his fourth in a row in the category.) In 2006, Clash released an autobiography My Life as a Furry Red Monster: What Being Elmo Has Taught Me About Life, Love and Laughing Out Loud.
Clash and Elmo play an integral role in the Sesame Workshop’s support of military families. Elmo’s presence is felt with every emotion on the Sesame Street for Military Families Facebook page, he’s helping families connect at Families Near and Far and stars in the Talk Listen Connect tool kits. The dedication and work of all at Sesame Street in support of military families is incredible.
Simply put, Kevin Clash defines Elmo as love. Elmo’s third person personality is a wonderful combination of the excitement and wonder of a forever 3 ½ year old child, the love of family and friends, wrapped up in red fur, and smothered with hugs and kisses. Thank you to Mr. Clash for so many years of Elmo’s love. We should all be so lucky to stay forever young doing what we love and making a difference. “Hugs.”
So go out and love your goldfish and crayons too. Thanks for reading. Our Dad’s Flag is a tribute for all military families — active, guard and reserve service members, wounded warriors, families and veterans — so be sure to tell others about this project by sharing this, tweeting all about it and/or liking us on Facebook.
Photo with Our Dad’s Flag is courtesy of Sesame Workshop. Elmo character and name are trademarks of Sesame Workshop.