Washington, District of Columbia, US
NBC Meet the Press
Washington, DC, US, 06/13/2008
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.
If there was one philosopher that my father couldn’t quote enough, it was the great Yogi Berra. One of his favorite Yogiisms was, always go to other people’s funerals. Otherwise, they won’t go to yours. Well…… 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 clichés like the plague.
But…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 half-full. 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. 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, right?
Well, I only had-I had 22 years, but I, too, would make that deal in a heartbeat.
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.
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. 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 Buffalo Bills. I love you, dad.