12/02/2004 at 08:00 AM EST
Even Peter Jennings tuned in: Wednesday night, Tom Brokaw delivered a personal and modest message as he signed off as NBC's Nightly News anchor.
"Well, the time is here," Brokaw, 64, who has sat at his desk for 23 years, said into the camera. "We've been through a lot together, through dark days and nights, through seasons of hope and joy."
Yes, there was a bit of choking up to be detected at times, especially as he spoke of "the Greatest Generation," those who served in World War II and built a post-War America.
In wrapping up, Brokaw said: "The enduring lessons through the decades are these: It's not the questions that get us in trouble, it's the answers. ... Whatever the story, I had only one objective: to get it right, always mindful that your patience and attention didn't come with a lifetime warranty."
Bob Hope's wistful rendition of "Thanks for the Memory" played in the background before the lights in the Rockefeller Center studio went out – though not before Brokaw had announced: "You'll see Brian Williams here tomorrow night, and I'll see you along the way."
As he left the studio – where he received a standing ovation from all, including wife Meredith and daughters Sarah and Jennifer – Brokaw told his staff to continue to work hard, so that they can continue to serve the American people.