By Brian Williams, Anchor and managing editor
Today's luncheon in the Rainbow Room here at 30 Rock had been on my calendar for months. The Newhouse School at Syracuse University conferred upon Tim Russert its Mirror Award for Lifetime Achievement. Along with many others in the industry, I took part in an advance-produced videotape tribute for Tim -- I did that on the day before I left for Afghanistan. The only thing missing from today's lunch was the honoree himself. Instead, I accepted the award on his behalf, and made sure it will be sent to his widow and son.
There is one story from backstage at the Kennedy Center on the day of the Memorial Service that deserves repeating: it happened in the green room, a collection of black leather couches where all eight speakers sat chatting before the program. Mostly, we were going through our notes and remarks, writing and re-writing -- greeting old friends and visitors backstage -- a combination of laughter and tears, and we all piled on Maria Shriver when she arrived a bit late. The most extraordinary moment came when Sister Lucille of Buffalo sat down next to Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo. She greeted him in Italian. He responded. They proceeded to engage in a spirited conversation, employing not a word of English. It was great to watch...and I never did ask Sister Lucille what it was they were talking about! I couldn't help but remark to Mike Barnicle that the one guy who would have loved that moment -- and re-telling that story -- wasn't there to witness it.
I'm so happy for our NBC News family, and especially for all of my friends in the Washington bureau, that Tom has come forward to host Meet the Press throughout this political season. It means a lot to everyone, especially the incredible Meet the Press editorial and production staff, who somehow were able to put together a broadcast this past weekend.
The work of this broadcast goes on. Tonight we have many fronts covered, including a story I was writing on that Friday night in Afghanistan when I got the call about Tim. We'll also cover the oil situation, the floods and the death last night of the comedy iconoclast George Carlin.
We're glad to be settled back in New York, and I hope you can join us tonight and all this week.