Luke Russert and Maureen Orth watch the casket of father and husband Tim Russert
J. Scott Applewhite/AP
06/18/2008 at 03:00 PM EDT
A composed, 22-year-old Luke Russert
delivered what he termed "my Dad's last speech" at funeral services in Washington, D.C., Wednesday for powerhouse journalist Tim Russert. The elder Russert, longtime host of NBC's Meet the Press, died Friday of a heart attack
at age 58.
"My dad was my best friend," said the younger Russert, who acknowledged wondering if he were capable of speaking at the service. "Well dad, I am the man for this job."
Speaking for his father, he advised parents, journalists and politicians to be their best selves. Saying that "we are all a small part of a grand design," Luke told his listeners: "Anyone can withstand anything" – even the loss of a beloved father.
If God offered a Luke the option of having only 22 years with his father before the elder Russert were "called home to God," Luke said, "I would have taken that deal in a heartbeat."
He concluded his speech with his father's favorite phrase: "Let us all go get 'em."
Politcal pundit James Carville said Luke's speech was "one of the best talks I've heard anyone give." Sen. John Kerry said the entire ceremony, which included a solo rendition of "Danny Boy" and a bagpiper playing "Amazing Grace," was "Beautiful. Absolutely gorgeous."
Hundreds of mourners, luminaries and ordinary citizens alike, gathered inside and outside the leafy Georgetown district's Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church for services conducted by Church luminary Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of Washington, D.C.
Invited guests, seated inside the historic church, included presidential candidates, Senators John McCain and Barack Obama; as well as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, former New York Governor Mario Cuomo, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, plus newsmen Tom Brokaw and Wolf Blitzer.
Mourners will gather again for a private memorial service
at Washington's Kennedy Center.