Luke Russert spoke at Tim Russert's memorial service Wednesday afternoon at the Kennedy Center. Watch the speech below (transcript below):
Transcript of Luke Russert's speech below:
LUKE RUSSERT, TIM RUSSERT'S SON: Good afternoon. I'm Luke Russert,
proud son of Tim and Maureen. Just before I begin, my mother and I
would just like to extend our deepest thanks for the tremendous
outpouring of love and support we've received from all of you and
everyone all over the country. Yesterday at the wake, we were very
touched. People of all races and religions and creeds came to the
door to St. Alban's to pay respects to my father. We had even one
woman who drove from South Dakota, two old ladies who flew in from
Lubbock, Texas, dozens who flew in from California, a son and a father
who drove from South Carolina, just a guy from Vermont, a guy from
Minnesota. And I think the entire city of Buffalo managed to find
their way down to Washington.
L. RUSSERT: But, you know, earlier today, I delivered my father's
eulogy. And I would like to share a few excerpts.
I'm sorry to break the news to every charity group and university and
club that he spoke to, but he had the same speech for all of you.
L. RUSSERT: He would just tinker with it a little bit depending on
who exactly he was talking to.
So, I would like to do the same thing from what I said earlier.
L. RUSSERT: And that's-that's what I will do.
L. RUSSERT: If there was one philosopher that my father couldn't
quote enough, it was the great Yogi Berra.
L. RUSSERT: One of his favorite Yogiisms was, always go to other
people's funerals. Otherwise, they won't go to yours.
L. RUSSERT: Well...
L. RUSSERT: ... everyone in this audience can rest assured, because,
please know, Tim Russert will be at your funeral.
And all throughout high school and college, I was taught to avoid
cliches like the plague.
L. RUSSERT: But there is really one besides my father and the prism
through which he saw life.
When I hold this up, some of you see a glass half-empty, and some of
you see a glass half-full. For Tim Russert, his glass was always
In my 22 years, I have never met anybody filled with so much optimism,
who not only loved the good parts of life, but also its challenges.
The ability of the human spirit to withstand tragedy always interested
my father. And he firmly believed that, with faith, friends, and a
little folly, anybody could withstand anything.
Well, that philosophy has certainly been put to the test this past
week, but I believe that it is working.
This past week has definitely been a whirlwind of emotion. In
preparing for this speech, I looked to Yeats, James Joyce, and even
Mark Twain, to try and find the perfect words to capture Tim Russert's
life and death in a way more eloquently and poignantly than I could
ever hope to do so.
But the other night, a friend of mine reminded me to look at chapter
20 of "Big Russ and Me" in a chapter that's called "Loss." It was
about Michael Gartner, my dad's friend, who lost his 17-year-old son
to acute juvenile diabetes some years ago.
After his passing, my dad phoned Michael. And he said to him,
Michael, think of it this way. What if God had come to you and said,
I'm going to make you an offer. I will give you a beautiful, a
wonderful, happy, and lovable son for 17 years, but then it will be
time for him to come home? You would make that deal in a second,
Well, I only had-I had 22 years, but I, too, would make that deal in a
Later in the chapter, my dad goes on to say, "The importance of faith
and of accepting and even celebrating death was something I continue
to believe as a Catholic and a Christian. To accept faith, we have to
resign ourselves as mortals to the fact that we are just a small part
of a grand design."
Well, my dad may have been a small part of God's grand design, oh, but
he was such a big presence here on this Earth.
In the sad times this week, all of you were such a source of comfort
and support for my family. And I have received hundreds and hundred
of e-mail and messages and phone calls, more than I would ever have
imagined, and I think that he would ever have imagined as well.
But one of my dad's fans wrote something to me that I think really
They wrote-she wrote: "If your dad could ask of one thing of all of
us, it would be to ask if our actions today yielded respect for our
families, been a credit to our faith, and a benefit to our fellow
Great men often lead with their egos. Tim Russert led with his heart,
his compassion, and, most importantly, his honor. He had a great time
living, and is no doubt having the time of his life now in heaven.
So, I ask you, this Sunday, in your hearts and in your mind, to
imagine a "Meet the Press" special edition, live from inside St.
Peter's gate. Maybe Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr will be on for
the full hour debating.
L. RUSSERT: Perhaps JFK and Barry Goldwater will give their two cents
about the 2008 election. And we could even have Teddy Roosevelt for
the full hour talking about the need for a third party.
L. RUSSERT: George Bernard Shaw said, this is the true joy in life,
being used for a purpose, recognized by yourself as a muddy one, being
thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap, being a
force of nature, instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of
ailments and grievances.
Well, my dad was a force of nature. And now his own cycle in nature
is complete. But his spirit lives on in everybody who loves their
country, loves their family, loves their faith, and loves those
L. RUSSERT: I love you, dad.
And, in his words, let us all go get' em.