“Let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.”
–John F. Kennedy
January 20, 1961
I was ten years old when I heard those words. They still resonate with me nearly a half century later. Am I doing God’s work? Is being a journalist my vocation? How does my faith influence my judgment as a reporter? Should it? Are the demands of my chosen profession leaving enough time for my responsibilities as a son, brother, husband, father and friend?
St. Luke teaches us “to whom much is given, much is expected.” Am I hearing that admonition—and responding to it in a generous way? Do I have a true appreciation of the uniqueness and goodness of others? More questions than answers, I’m afraid.
One particular day provided some clarity. September 11, 2001. I don’t think the English language has yet found the words to describe the pain and anguish we felt that day. And yet we learned much about each other. The bravery of the first responders who went up the stairs of burning buildings. The heroic selfless souls on United flight #93. The patience of tens of thousands of drivers who left the devastated areas in an orderly way.
I have not honked my car horn since September 11 as a gesture of respect to all of them. 9/11 also gave me a whole new insight into my Dad and why he left school in the 10th grade to enlist after Pearl Harbor. I wrote a book affirming his life. It changed my life and my relationship with my father—and my son—forever. We now share openly the love and respect and pride we have in each other. A day doesn’t go by when other sons and daughters want to share stories of their dad with me. Now that’s a journey I never expected, but one which is so meaningful—perhaps even more important than my “career.”
Bottom line. I’m working hard, laughing often and praying with purpose. On with life!
Tim Russert is the Managing Editor and Moderator of Meet the Press and political analyst for NBC Nightly News and the Today Program. He anchors The Tim Russert Show, a weekly interview program on CNBC and is a contributing anchor for MSNBC. His two books, “Big Russ and Me” in 2004 and “Wisdom of Our Fathers” in 2006, were both New York Times #1. bestsellers.