Eulogy Resources

Eulogies of Famous People

1 Steve Irwin's Eulogy given by his 8 year-old daughter Bindi Irwin    

September 20, 2006

My Daddy was my hero – he was always there for me when I needed him. He listened to me and taught me so many things, but most of all he was fun.

I know that Daddy had an important job. He was working to change the world so everyone would love wildlife like he did. He built a hospital to help animals and he bought lots of land to give animals a safe place to live.

He took me and my brother and my Mum with him all the time. We filmed together, caught crocodiles together and loved being in the bush together.

I don't want Daddy's passion to ever end. I want to help endangered wildlife just like he did.

I have the best Daddy in the whole world and I will miss him every day. When I see a crocodile I will always think of him and I know that Daddy made this zoo so everyone could come and learn to love all the animals. Daddy made this place his whole life and now it's our turn to help Daddy.

2 Walter Matthau's Eulogy given by his son Charlie Matthau

August 2000

My father taught me to have a sense of humor about everything, no matter how sad — not to take life too seriously because none of us is getting out of here alive, and little of what we do is going to matter in a few years. I remember him telling me about the funeral where everyone hated the deceased and nobody knew what to say, so the eulogist got up there and said, 'Well ... his brother was worse.' It's the opposite of the situation we have today."

3 Rosa Park's Eulogy given by Oprah Winfrey

October 31, 2005

God uses good people to do great things.

Reverend Braxton, family, friends, admirers, and this amazing choir:

I -- I feel it an honor to be here to come and say a final goodbye. I grew up in the South, and Rosa Parks was a hero to me long before I recognized and understood the power and impact that her life embodied. I remember my father telling me about this colored woman who had refused to give up her seat. And in my child's mind, I thought, "She must be really big." I thought she must be at least a hundred feet tall. I imagined her being stalwart and strong and carrying a shield to hold back the white folks. And then I grew up and had the esteemed honor of meeting her. And wasn't that a surprise. Here was this petite, almost delicate lady who was the personification of grace and goodness. And I thanked her then. I said, "Thank you," for myself and for every colored girl, every colored boy, who didn't have heroes who were celebrated. I thanked her then.

And after our first meeting I realized that God uses good people to do great things. And I'm here today to say a final thank you, Sister Rosa, for being a great woman who used your life to serve, to serve us all. That day that you refused to give up your seat on the bus, you, Sister Rosa, changed the trajectory of my life and the lives of so many other people in the world. I would not be standing here today nor standing where I stand every day had she not chosen to sit down. I know that. I know that. I know that. I know that, and I honor that. Had she not chosen to say we shall not -- we shall not be moved.

So I thank you again, Sister Rosa, for not only confronting the one white man who[se] seat you took, not only confronting the bus driver, not only for confronting the law, but for confronting history, a history that for 400 years said that you were not even worthy of a glance, certainly no consideration. I thank you for not moving.

And in that moment when you resolved to stay in that seat, you reclaimed your humanity and you gave us all back a piece of our own. I thank you for that. I thank you for acting without concern. I often thought about what that took, knowing the climate of the times and what could have happened to you, what it took to stay seated. You acted without concern for yourself and made life better for us all. We shall not be moved. I marvel at your will. I celebrate your strength to this day. And I am forever grateful, Sister Rosa, for your courage, your conviction. I owe you to succeed. I will not be moved.

4 Tim Russert's Eulogy given by his son Luke Russert

June, 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.

Yesterday at the wake, we were very touched. People of all races and religions and creeds came to the door to St. Alban's to pay respects to my father. We had even one woman who drove from South Dakota, two old ladies who flew in from Lubbock, Texas, dozens who flew in from California, a son and a father who drove from South Carolina, just a guy from Vermont, a guy from Minnesota. And I think the entire city of Buffalo managed to find their way down to Washington.

But, you know, earlier today, I delivered my father's eulogy. And I would like to share a few excerpts.

I'm sorry to break the news to every charity group and university and club that he spoke to, but he had the same speech for all of you.

He would just tinker with it a little bit depending on who exactly he was talking to.

So, I would like to do the same thing from what I said earlier.

And that's-that's what I will do.

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 cliches 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.

This past week has definitely been a whirlwind of emotion. In preparing for this speech, I looked to Yeats, James Joyce, and even Mark Twain, to try and find the perfect words to capture Tim Russert's life and death in a way more eloquently and poignantly than I could ever hope to do so.

But 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.

In the sad times this week, all of you were such a source of comfort and support for my family. And I have received hundreds and hundred of e-mail and messages and phone calls, more than I would ever have imagined, and I think that he would ever have imagined as well.

But one of my dad's fans wrote something to me that I think really captures him.

They wrote-she wrote: "If your dad could ask of one thing of all of us, it would be to ask if our actions today yielded respect for our families, been a credit to our faith, and a benefit to our fellow men."

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.

So, I ask you, this Sunday, in your hearts and in your mind, to imagine a "Meet the Press" special edition, live from inside St. Peter's gate. Maybe Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr will be on for the full hour debating.

Perhaps JFK and Barry Goldwater will give their two cents about the 2008 election. And we could even have Teddy Roosevelt for the full hour talking about the need for a third party.

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.

And, in his words, let us all go get' em.

5 Sonny Bono's Eulogy given by Cher

January 9, 1998

Please excuse my papers, but I've been writing this stupid eulogy for the last 48 hours. And, of course, I know that this would make Sonny really happy. It's like Den said: "He got the last laugh."

So because I've had to write some of it down doesn't mean that I'm unprepared. It just means that I'm over prepared in that this is probably the most important thing I've ever done in my life. Don't pay any attention [weeping]. This is probably going to happen from time to time. And I also know that he is some place loving this Also, I have to wear the glasses that I made so much fun of him. I called him Mr. Magoo. I said, "You know, you've got to get some better glasses. You know, I don't care if you're Republican or not, you've got to look cooler than this." So now I have to wear the glasses that I make fun of him for saying. There are a couple of things -- I want to tell some stories -- but there are a couple of things I really want to get perfect for him. So I have to read.

Some people were under the misconception that Son was a short man, but he was heads and tails taller than anyone else. He could see above the tallest people. He had a vision of the future and just how he was going to build it. And his enthusiasm was so great that he just swept ever body along with him. Not that we knew where he was going, but we just wanted to be there (audience laughs). He was also successful at anything he ever tried. Not the first time he tried maybe, but he just kept going. If he really wanted something, he kept going until he achieved it. Once he told me that, when he was a teenager, he got his nose broken six times because he used to get into fights with guys that were much bigger than him. And he said that they would just be beating the crap out of him and would just be keep going back and going back and going back. I said, "Well, why?" And he said, "Because eventually I would just wear them down." (audience laughs). And if you know him, we all got worn down.

Some people thought that Son wasn't very bright, but he was smart enough to take an introverted 16-year-old girl and a scrappy little Italian guy with a bad voice and turn them into the most successful and beloved couple of this generation. And some people thought that Son wasn't to be taken seriously because he allowed himself to be the butt of the jokes on the Sonny and Cher show. What people don't realize is that he created Sonny and Cher. And he knew what was right for us, you know? He just always knew the right thing. And he wanted to make people laugh so much that he had the confidence to be the butt of the joke because he created the joke.

When I was 16-years-old, I met Sonny -- Salvatore Philip Bono. And the first time I ever saw him, he walked in this room. And I had never seen anything like him before in my life. Because he was Sonny way before we were Sonny and Cher. He had this thing about him. He walked into this room, and I swear to God I saw him and like everybody else in this room was just washed away in this soft focus filter -- kind of like when Maria saw Tony at the dance. And I looked at him, and he had like this weird hair-do between Caesar and Napoleon. As a matter of fact, one of the first things that he ever told me was that he was a descendent of Napoleon, and that his father had shortened the name of Bonaparte to Bono when he came to this country. But that he didn't want to make too big a deal out of this. Now you have to realize, at this time, he was talking to a girl who thought that Mount Rushmore was a natural phenomenon. So we were definitely a marriage made in heaven.

I lied to him about how old I was. I've told this story, but somehow it always keeps coming back. I told him that I was 18, and of course I wasn't. I was the most bizarre 16-year-old that you probably would come across. I had all kinds of phobias and all kinds of insecurities and all kinds of energies that just couldn't be harnessed. Except Son saw something. And I didn't have a place to stay and he said, "You know, you can come and live with me because I have twin beds and really I don't find you attractive." I didn't really know how to take it, but I was really glad to have a place to stay.

And when people would call or come over and say, "Who's that girl?" "Oh, that's just Cher." We spent this whole time together and I was just Cher. I was this kid and he kind of took care of me. I told my mom I was living with a stewardess. And every time that my mom would call, I always said, "Mom, call me before you come over." Every time my mom would call, I'd grab all of Sonny's clothes and run down the street and throw all his clothes into my girlfriend's living room window. And I lost most of his clothes that year. One time he came into the house and he had his jockey shorts in his hand and he said, "Cher, you've just got to stop doing this. I found these on the street."

So nothing happened with us romantically until my mom made me move out. When I was packing my things, we both just looked at each other and we started crying and I didn't even know why. And then I just realized once I was there that I just missed him so much -- I was so used to him being a part of my life. And I also had to tell him at that time that I wasn't 18. That I was 17, but I was about to turn 18. And when we were crying -- he actually cried too -- I said, "Well, I'm not 17 about to turn 18. I'm 16 about to turn 17, but I can't go through the rest of my life without you. So if my mother threatens to put you in jail, could you just do it anyway." So my mother kept threatening him all that year. But then I turned 18 and everything was all right.

I want to close, but I wanted to tell Mary and Chesare and Chianna how proud I am of what he made himself after we were separated and his accomplishments. And I know that a person just doesn't decide to become a Congressman in the middle of their life and then be one.

But it's just so typical of Sonny to do something so crazy like that. And also it puts my mind at peace to know that in the end of his days that he had such a wonderful family life. And I know how much he loved Mary and Chesare and Chianna. And I know how much they loved him. And also I know how much he loved his friends. He was the greatest friend. If you'd seen our house for the last five days -- Mary's house for the last five days -- we can't get rid of everybody. Everybody's just there, you know. And it's the way you would have wanted it. He would have been in the middle cooking -- not eating, just tasting. And making everybody else eat.

So the last thing I want to say is, when I was young, there was this section in the Reader's Digest. It was called "The Most Unforgettable Character I've Ever Met." And for me that person is Sonny Bono. And no matter how long I live or who I meet in my life, that person will always be Sonny for me."

6 Mattie Stepanek's Eulogy given by President Jimmy Carter

June 28, 2004

When I was running for governor a number of years ago, my wife and I didn't have much money so we traveled around the state and we estimated later that we shook hands personally with 600,000 people.

Later I ran for president, as some of you may remember, and campaigned in all 50 states. Subsequently, I traveled around the world. In fact, since I left the White House, my wife and I have been to more than 120 nations. And we have known kings and queens, and we've known presidents and prime ministers, but the most extraordinary person whom I have ever known in my life is Mattie Stepanek.

I didn't know Mattie until about three years ago when Make-A-Wish Foundation sent me a letter and said there was a little boy who only had a few more days to live and his final request was to meet Jimmy Carter. I was surprised and honored and within a few days, as a matter of fact, the Good Morning America program arranged for Mattie to be interviewed and for me to come there as a surprise to meet with him. He later told his mother, Jeni, that when I walked in the room he thought it was a presidential impersonator. And later, when it proved to be me, he told Jeni, and Jeni told me, that that was the first time in his life, and maybe the only time, when Mattie was speechless. But we exchanged greetings and formed, I would say, an instantaneous bond of love.

The next morning back home, Mattie woke up and he told Jeni what a wonderful time he had had. He had been dreaming, but he was so proud that he had met Jimmy Carter. And Jeni, often teasing Mattie, said, "Mattie, you must have been dreaming. You haven't actually met Jimmy Carter," and Mattie burst into tears and Jeni very quickly reassured him that we had actually had a personal meeting.

That meeting and our subsequent relationship have literally changed my life for the better. Mattie said that day that I had been his hero for a long time and I was sure that he was just joking and he could tell on the ABC program that I didn't really quite believe him. And so to prove that, he sent me a video, a 20-minute-long video that he had made when he was 6-years-old, explaining the life of Jimmy Carter. And for the different segments in the video, he dressed appropriately.

So, it started out I was a little farm boy and Mattie had on ragged clothes and he spoke with what Rose (Rosalynn) and I thought was an atrocious Southern accent. And then later I was a naval officer and then later I came back to be a farmer and then ultimately was president, so he changed clothes every time. And then while I was president, he gave an appeal to human rights and peace and things of that kind and while the camera was on him, he realized later, his toes kept wiggling, he was barefoot, so for a long time he apologized to me that he should have done that segment over and at least put on shoes to be president.

He sent me another video, which I would like for all of you to try to see. It's a video of his competition as a black belt in martial arts for the ultimate prize in that intense and demanding sport. It was incredible to see the agility of that young boy and the strength in his body.

Mattie and I began to correspond. After his death, Jeni gave me the honor of letting me come and do this speech. I had my secretary get out our correspondence. It's that thick, on every possible subject. He was always in some degree of anguish, and I think embarrassment, when his books on the New York Times list were always above mine. And he would sympathize with me and say, "Well, you know maybe poetry just has less competition than what you are writing about." But he was very sensitive to my feelings. We also were close enough for Mattie to share some of his problems with me in his private messages. He talked about when he and Jeni were not well off and some local churches, I'm sure not the one represented here this morning, would take up a food collection and send it to them. Mattie used to examine the labels on the food and quite often he said he would find that the date had expired and that people were giving poor people inferior food that they didn't want to use themselves. And Mattie said, "If my books make a lot of money, we're going to get food that's brand new and make sure that poor people get the best food, even if we have to eat the old, outdated food in our house."

He was very proud of the fact that he and his mother could move into a place that had windows.

I've thought a lot about Mattie's religious faith. It's all-encompassing, to include all human beings who believe in peace and justice and humility and service and compassion and love. The exact characteristics of our Savior Jesus Christ. He was still a boy, although he had the mind and the consciousness and the awareness of global affairs of a mature, philosophical adult.

One of his prime goals in life was to see the movie "Return of the King" seven times and I hope he was able to accomplish his goal. I'm not quite sure. But that was the kind of thing that he had as his ambitions.

He was as proud as I was when I won the Nobel Peace Prize, which has already been mentioned. As soon as the ceremony was over at the hall in Oslo, I went by myself to the top of a little hill right behind the place and I found a rock and I inscribed on it and I sent it to Mattie, because I felt that he shared the honor that I had received.

The last few days, I have been re-reading some of Mattie's statements that he wrote to me, I've re-read the correspondence. One thing he said was, "I choose to live until death, not spend the time dying until death occurs."

Jeni told me about one occasion when Mattie was supposed to be a main part of the program which he helped prepare to raise funds for muscular dystrophy, but when the time approached he was in the intensive care unit. They announced at first that Mattie could not attend the event that meant so much to him, in which he had helped in its preparation. He insisted on coming. When he got there and began to say his lines, he announced, "I'm out of breath. I can't speak." Mattie loved to dress up and to wear fancy clothes and his favorite kind of clothes, as some of you may surmise, was a tuxedo. So Jeni and Mattie arranged for him to put on a tuxedo and he said, "When I have a tuxedo on, I can talk." So he went back with his tuxedo.

Mattie said he wanted to be, as an ultimate goal in his life, an ambassador of humanity and a daddy. Mattie had already named his first seven children and had even given personal idiosyncrasies and characteristics to the first four. He wanted to leave a human legacy and family descendents, but Mattie's legacy, obviously, is much greater than that.

As has already been quoted, he said, "I want to be a poet, a peacemaker and a philosopher who played." Mattie was deeply aware of international affairs and shared a lot of his thoughts with me. He was once again in the intensive care unit when the war in Iraq began and Mattie burst into uncontrollable sobs of grief and anger. Jeni said he had never cried nearly so much about his own health or his own problems.

He wrote me right after that and I will quote exactly what he said: "Dear Jimmy, I am hurting about the war and I cried last night when I saw the attack on Iraq. I am not trying to be disrespectful, but I feel like President Bush made a decision long ago that he was going to have this war. Imagine if he had spent as much time and energy considering the possibility of peace as he has convincing others of the inevitability of war. We'd be at a different point in history today."

Mattie was obviously extremely idealistic, but not completely idealistic. He also wrote me in a subsequent letter, "I know that I should be peaceful with everyone, but it's also not smart," he said, "to put yourself in a dangerous situation. Like even though I would want to talk to Osama bin Laden about peace in the future, I wouldn't want to be alone with him in his cave." In the same letter he asked me if I would join him not just in that meeting, but in writing a book that Mattie wanted to call, and had already named, "Just Peace."

In an incredible way for a child his age, he analyzed the semantics of the word "just." The title was "Just Peace" and he said "just" had so many connotations that he thought that was the best word to put before "peace." He said "just" could be a minimal expectation, just peace, nothing else. It could mean just peace and peace as a paramount commitment, above everything else. And it could mean a peace that was exemplified by justice.

I spent seven years earlier in my life writing a book of poems about which Mattie was graciously complimentary. Poetry seemed to flow out of Mattie, kind of like an automatic stream, directed by inspiration through Mattie's hands for the enjoyment of hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of people. I want to read just a few of them with which many of you are familiar, because he combined humor with serious thoughts. All of them I would say are unique, surprising when you read them.

One of them is titled "About Angels" and he honored me by letting me write the foreword to this book, called "Journey Through Heartsongs."

7 Princess Diana's Eulogy given by her brother Charles Spencer

September 6, 1997

I stand before you today the representative of a family in grief, in a country in mourning before a world in shock.

We are all united not only in our desire to pay our respects to Diana but rather in our need to do so. For such was her extraordinary appeal that the tens of millions of people taking part in this service all over the world via television and radio who never actually met her, feel that they too lost someone close to them in the early hours of Sunday morning. It is a more remarkable tribute to Diana than I can ever hope to offer her today.

Diana was the very essence of compassion, of duty, of style, of beauty.

All over the world she was a symbol of selfless humanity. All over the world, a standard-bearer for the rights of the truly downtrodden, a very British girl who transcended nationality. Someone with a natural nobility who was classless and who proved in the last year that she needed no royal title to continue to generate her particular brand of magic.

Today is our chance to say thank you for the way you brightened our lives, even though God granted you but half a life. We will all feel cheated always that you were taken from us so young and yet we must learn to be grateful that you came along at all. Only now that you are gone do we truly appreciate what we are now without, and we want you to know that life without you is very, very difficult. We have all despaired at your loss over the past week and only the strength of the message you gave us through your years of giving has afforded us the strength to move forward.

There is a temptation to rush to canonise your memory; there is no need to do so. You stand tall enough as a human being of unique qualities not to need to be seen as a saint. Indeed, to sanctify your memory would be to miss out on the very core of your being, your wonderfully mischievous sense of humour with a laugh that bent you double. Your joy for life transmitted wherever you took your smile and the sparkle in those unforgettable eyes. Your boundless energy which you could barely contain.

But your greatest gift was your intuition, and it was a gift you used wisely. This is what underpinned all your other wonderful attributes and if we look to analyse what it was about you that had such a wide appeal we find it in your instinctive feel for what was really important in all our lives. Without your God-given sensitivity we would be immersed in greater ignorance at the anguish of AIDS and HIV sufferers, the plight of the homeless, the isolation of lepers, the random destruction of landmines. Diana explained to me once that it was her innermost feelings of suffering that made it possible for her to connect with her constituency of the rejected. And here we come to another truth about her. For all the status, the glamour, the applause, Diana remained throughout a very insecure person at heart, almost childlike in her desire to do good for others so she could release herself from deep feelings of unworthiness of which her eating disorders were merely a symptom. The world sensed this part of her character and cherished her for her vulnerability whilst admiring her for her honesty.

8 Mahatma Gandhi's Eulogy given by Jawaharlal Nehru

February 2, 1942

Friends and comrades, the light has gone out of our lives and there is darkness everywhere. I do not know what to tell you and how to say it. Our beloved leader, Bapu as we called him, the father of the nation, is no more. Perhaps I am wrong to say that. Nevertheless, we will not see him again as we have seen him for these many years. We will not run to him for advise and seek solace from hi, and that is a terrible blow, not to me only, but to millions and millions in this country, and it is a little difficult to soften the blow by any other advise that I or anyone else can give you.

The light has gone out, I said, and yet I was wrong. For the light that shone in this country was no ordinary light. The light that has illumined this country for these many years will illumine this country for many more years, and a thousand years later that light will still be seen in this country, and the world will see it and it will give solace to innumerable hearts. For that light represented the living truth ... the eternal truths, reminding us of the right path, drawing us from error, taking this ancient country to freedom.

All this has happened when there was so much more for him to do. We could never think that he was unnecessary or that he had done his task. But now, particularly, when we are faced with so many difficulties, his not being with us is a blow most terrible to bear.

A madman has put an end to his life, for I can only call him mad who did it, and yet there has been enough of poison spread in this country during the past years and months, and this poison has effect on people's minds. We must face this poison, we must root out this poison, and we must face all the perils that encompass and face them not madly or badly but rather in the way that our beloved teacher taught us to face them.. The first thing to remember no wish that no one of us dare misbehave because we're angry. We have to behave like strong and determined people, determined to face all the perils that surround us, determined to carry out the mandate that our great teacher and our great leader had given us, remembering always that if, as I believe, his sprit looks upon us and sees u, nothing would displease his soul so much as to see that we have indulged in any small behaviour or any violence.

So we must not do that. But that does not mean that we should be weak, but rather that we should in strength and in unity face all the troubles and difficulties and conflicts must be ended in the face of this great disaster. A great disaster is a symbol to us to remember all the big things of life and forget the small things, of which we have thought too much."

9 Graham Chapman's Eulogy give by John Cleese


Graham Chapman, co-author of the 'Parrot Sketch,' is no more.

He has ceased to be, bereft of life, he rests in peace, he has kicked the bucket, hopped the twig, bit the dust, snuffed it, breathed his last, and gone to meet the Great Head of Light Entertainment in the sky, and I guess that we're all thinking how sad it is that a man of such talent, such capability and kindness, of such intelligence should now be so suddenly spirited away at the age of only forty-eight, before he'd achieved many of the things of which he was capable, and before he'd had enough fun.

Well, I feel that I should say, "Nonsense. Good riddance to him, the freeloading bastard! I hope he fries. "

And the reason I think I should say this is, he would never forgive me if I didn't, if I threw away this opportunity to shock you all on his behalf. Anything for him but mindless good taste. I could hear him whispering in my ear last night as I was writing this:

"Alright, Cleese, you're very proud of being the first person to ever say 'shit' on television. If this service is really for me, just for starters, I want you to be the first person ever at a British memorial service to say 'fuck'!"

You see, the trouble is, I can't. If he were here with me now I would probably have the courage, because he always emboldened me. But the truth is, I lack his balls, his splendid defiance. And so I'll have to content myself instead with saying 'Betty Mardsen...'

But bolder and less inhibited spirits than me follow today. Jones and Idle, Gilliam and Palin. Heaven knows what the next hour will bring in Graham's name. Trousers dropping, blasphemers on pogo sticks, spectacular displays of high-speed farting, synchronised incest. One of the four is planning to stuff a dead ocelot and a 1922 Remington typewriter up his own arse to the sound of the second movement of Elgar's cello concerto. And that's in the first half.

Because you see, Gray would have wanted it this way. Really. Anything for him but mindless good taste. And that's what I'll always remember about him---apart, of course, from his Olympian extravagance. He was the prince of bad taste. He loved to shock. In fact, Gray, more than anyone I knew, embodied and symbolised all that was most offensive and juvenile in Monty Python

. And his delight in shocking people led him on to greater and greater feats. I like to think of him as the pioneering beacon that beat the path along which fainter spirits could follow.

Some memories. I remember writing the undertaker speech with him, and him suggesting the punch line, 'All right, we'll eat her, but if you feel bad about it afterwards, we'll dig a grave and you can throw up into it.' I remember discovering in 1969, when we wrote every day at the flat where Connie Booth and I lived, that he'd recently discovered the game of printing four-letter words on neat little squares of paper, and then quietly placing them at strategic points around our flat, forcing Connie and me into frantic last minute paper chases whenever we were expecting important guests.

I remember him at BBC parties crawling around on all fours, rubbing himself affectionately against the legs of gray-suited executives, and delicately nibbling the more appetizing female calves. Mrs. Eric Morecambe remembers that too.

I remember his being invited to speak at the Oxford union, and entering the chamber dressed as a carrot---a full length orange tapering costume with a large, bright green sprig as a hat----and then, when his turn came to speak, refusing to do so. He just stood there, literally speechless, for twenty minutes, smiling beatifically. The only time in world history that a totally silent man has succeeded in inciting a riot.

I remember Graham receiving a Sun newspaper TV award from Reggie Maudling. Who else! And taking the trophy falling to the ground and crawling all the way back to his table, screaming loudly, as loudly as he could. And if you remember Gray, that was very loud indeed.

It is magnificent, isn't it? You see, the thing about shock... is not that it upsets some people, I think; I think that it gives others a momentary joy of liberation, as we realised in that instant that the social rules that constrict our lives so terribly are not actually very important.

Well, Gray can't do that for us anymore. He's gone. He is an ex-Chapman. All we have of him now is our memories. But it will be some time before they fade.

10 John F. Kennedy Junior's Eulogy by his Uncle Senator Edward (Ted) Kennedy

July 23, 1999

Thank you, President and Mrs. Clinton and Chelsea, for being here today. You've shown extraordinary kindness through the course of this week.

Once, when they asked John what he would do if he went into politics and was elected president, he said, "I guess the first thing is call up Uncle Teddy and gloat." I loved that. It was so like his father.

From the first day of his life, John seemed to belong not only to our family, but to the American family. The whole world knew his name before he did. A famous photograph showed John racing across the lawn as his father landed in the White House helicopter and swept up John in his arms. When my brother saw that photo, he exclaimed, "Every mother in the United States is saying, 'Isn't it wonderful to see that love between a son and his father, the way that John races to be with his father.' Little do they know, that son would have raced right by his father to get to that helicopter."

But John was so much more than those long ago images emblazoned in our minds. He was a boy who grew into a man with a zest for life and a love of adventure. He was a pied piper who brought us all along. He was blessed with a father and mother who never thought anything mattered more than their children.

When they left the White House, Jackie's soft and gentle voice and unbreakable strength of spirit guided him surely and securely to the future. He had a legacy, and he learned to treasure it. He was part of a legend, and he learned to live with it. Above all, Jackie gave him a place to be himself, to grow up, to laugh and cry, to dream and strive on his own.

John learned that lesson well. He had amazing grace. He accepted who he was, but he cared more about what he could and should become. He saw things that could be lost in the glare of the spotlight. And he could laugh at the absurdity of too much pomp and circumstance.

He loved to travel across the city by subway, bicycle and roller blade. He lived as if he were unrecognizable, although he was known by everyone he encountered. He always introduced himself, rather than take anything for granted. He drove his own car and flew his own plane, which is how he wanted it. He was the king of his domain.

He thought politics should be an integral part of our popular culture, and that popular culture should be an integral part of politics. He transformed that belief into the creation of "George." John shaped and honed a fresh, often irreverent journal. His new political magazine attracted a new generation, many of whom had never read about politics before.

John also brought to "George" a wit that was quick and sure. The premier issue of "George" caused a stir with a cover photograph of Cindy Crawford dressed as George Washington with a bare belly button. The "Reliable Source" in The Washington Post printed a mock cover of "George" showing not Cindy Crawford, but me dressed as George Washington, with my belly button exposed. I suggested to John that perhaps I should have been the model for the first cover of his magazine. Without missing a beat, John told me that he stood by his original editorial decision.

John brought this same playful wit to other aspects of his life. He campaigned for me during my 1994 election and always caused a stir when he arrived in Massachusetts. Before one of his trips to Boston, John told the campaign he was bringing along a companion, but would need only one hotel room. Interested, but discreet, a senior campaign worker picked John up at the airport and prepared to handle any media barrage that might accompany John's arrival with his mystery companion. John landed with the companion all right < an enormous German shepherd dog named Sam he had just rescued from the pound.

He loved to talk about the expression on the campaign worker's face and the reaction of the clerk at the Charles Hotel when John and Sam checked in. I think now not only of these wonderful adventures, but of the kind of person John was. He was the son who quietly gave extraordinary time and ideas to the Institute of Politics at Harvard that bears his father's name. He brought to the institute his distinctive insight that politics could have a broader appeal, that it was not just about elections, but about the larger forces that shape our whole society.

John was also the son who was once protected by his mother. He went on to become her pride -- and then her protector in her final days. He was the Kennedy who loved us all, but who especially cherished his sister Caroline, celebrated her brilliance, and took strength and joy from their lifelong mutual admiration society.And for a thousand days, he was a husband who adored the wife who became his perfect soul mate. John's father taught us all to reach for the moon and the stars. John did that in all he did -- and he found his shining star when he married Carolyn Bessette.

How often our family will think of the two of them, cuddling affectionately on a boat, surrounded by family -- aunts, uncles, Caroline and Ed and their children, Rose, Tatiana, and Jack, Kennedy cousins, Radziwill cousins, Shriver cousins, Smith cousins, Lawford cousins -- as we sailed Nantucket Sound. Then we would come home, and before dinner, on the lawn where his father had played, John would lead a spirited game of touch football. And his beautiful young wife, the new pride of the Kennedys, would cheer for John's team and delight her nieces and nephews with her somersaults.

We loved Carolyn. She and her sister Lauren were young extraordinary women of high accomplishment -- and their own limitless possibilities. We mourn their loss and honor their lives. The Bessette and Freeman families will always be part of ours.

John was a serious man who brightened our lives with his smile and his grace. He was a son of privilege who founded a program called Reaching Up to train better caregivers for the mentally disabled. He joined Wall Street executives on the Robin Hood Foundation to help the city's impoverished children. And he did it all so quietly, without ever calling attention to himself. John was one of Jackie's two miracles. He was still becoming the person he would be, and doing it by the beat of his own drummer. He had only just begun. There was in him a great promise of things to come.

The Irish Ambassador recited a poem to John's father and mother soon after John was born. I can hear it again now, at this different and difficult moment:

"We wish to the new child,

A heart that can be beguiled,

By a flower,

That the wind lifts,

As it passes.

If the storms break for him,

May the trees shake for him,

Their blossoms down.

In the night that he is troubled,

May a friend wake for him,

So that his time be doubled,

And at the end of all loving and love

May the Man above,

Give him a crown."

We thank the millions who have rained blossoms down on John's memory. He and his bride have gone to be with his mother and father, where there will never be an end to love. He was lost on that troubled night, but we will always wake for him, so that his time, which was not doubled, but cut in half, will live forever in our memory, and in our beguiled and broken hearts. We dared to think, in that other Irish phrase, that this John Kennedy would live to comb gray hair, with his beloved Carolyn by his side. But like his father, he had every gift but length of years. We who have loved him from the day he was born, and watched the remarkable man he became, now bid him farewell.

God bless you, John and Carolyn. We love you and we always will.

11 Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis' Eulogy give by Senator Edward (Ted) Kennedy

May 23, 1994

Last summer, when we were on the upper deck on the boat at the Vineyard, waiting for President and Mrs. Clinton to arrive, Jackie turned to me and said: ‘Teddy, you go down and greet the President.’

But I said: ‘Maurice is already there.’

And Jackie answered: ‘Teddy, you do it.  Maurice isn’t running for re-election.’

She was always there – for all our family – in her special way.

She was a blessing to us and to the nation – and a lesson to the world on how to do things right, how to be a mother, hot to appreciate history, how to be courageous.  No one else looked like her, spoke like her, wrote like her, or was so original in the way she did things.  No one we knew ever had a better sense of self.

Eight months before she married Jack, they went together to President Eisenhower’s Inaugural Ball.  Jackie said later that that’s where they decided they liked inaugurations.

No one ever gave more meaning to the title of first lady.  The nation’s capital city looks as it does because of her.  She saved Lafayette Square and Pennsylvania Avenue.

Jackie brought the greatest artists to the White House, and brought the arts to the center of national attention.  Today, in large part because of her inspiration and vision, the arts are an abiding part of national policy.

President Kennedy took such delight in her brilliance and her spirit.  At a White House dinner, he once leaned over and told the wife of the French Ambassador, "Jackie speaks fluent French.  But I only understand one out of every five words she says – and that word in DeGaulle."

And then, during those four endless days in 1963, she held us together as a family and a country.  In large part because of her, we could grieve and then go on.  She lifted us up, and in the doubt and darkness, she gave her fellow citizens back their pride as Americans.  She was then 34 years old.

Afterward, as the eternal flame she lit flickered in the autumn of Arlington Cemetery, Jackie went on to do what she most wanted – to raise Caroline and John, and warm her family’s life and that of all the Kennedys.

Robert Kennedy sustained her, and she helped make it possible for Bobby to continue.  She kept Jack’s memory alive, as he carried Jack’s mission on.

Her two children turned out to be extraordinary, honest, unspoiled, and with a character equal to hers.  And she did it in the most trying of circumstances.  They are her two miracles.

Her love for Caroline and John was deep and unqualified.  She reveled in their accomplishments, she hurt with their sorrows, and she felt sheer joy and delight in spending time with them.  At the mere mention of one of their names, Jackie’s eyes would shine brighter and her smile would grow bigger.

She once said that if you "bungle raising your children nothing else much matters in life."  She didn’t bungle.  Once again, she showed how to do the most important thing of all, and do it right.

When she went to work, Jackie became a respected professional in the world of publishing.  And because of her, remarkable books came to life.  She searched out new authors and ideas.  She was interested in everything.

Her love of history became a devotion to historic preservation.  You knew, when Jackie joined the cause to save a building in Manhattan, the bulldozers might as well turn around and go home.

She had a wonderful sense of humor – a way of focusing on someone with total attention – and a little girl delight in who they were and what they were saying. It was a gift of herself that she gave to others.  And in spite of all her heartache and loss, she never faltered.

I often think of what she said about Jack in December after he died: ‘They made him a legend, when he would have preferred to be a man.’  Jackie would have preferred to be just herself, but the world insisted that she be a legend too. She never wanted public notice – in part I think, because it brought back painful memories of an unbearable sorrow, endured in the glare of a million lights.

In all the years since then, her genuineness and depth of character continued to shine through the privacy, and reach people everywhere.  Jackie was too young to be a widow in 1963, and too young to die now.

Her grandchildren were bringing her new joy to her life, a joy that illuminated her face whenever you saw them together.  Whether it was taking Rose and Tatiana for an ice cream cone, or taking a walk in Central Park with little Jack as she did last Sunday, she relished being Grandjackie and showering her grandchildren with love.

At the end, she worried more about us than herself.  She let her family and friends know she was thinking of them.  How cherished were those wonderful notes in her distinctive hand on her powder blue stationary!

In truth, she did everything she could – and more – for each of us.

She made a rare and noble contribution to the American spirit.  But for us, most of all she was a magnificent wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt and friend.

She graced our history.  And for those of us who knew and loved her – she graced our lives.

12 President Ronald Regan's Eulogy given by Margaret Thatcher

June 11, 2004

Eulogy to the Great Liberator

We have lost a great president, a great American, and a great man. And I have lost a dear friend.

In his lifetime Ronald Reagan was such a cheerful and invigorating presence that it was easy to forget what daunting historic tasks he set himself. He sought to mend America's wounded spirit, to restore the strength of the free world, and to free the slaves of communism. These were causes hard to accomplish and heavy with risk.

Yet they were pursued with almost a lightness of spirit. For Ronald Reagan also embodied another great cause - what Arnold Bennett once called `the great cause of cheering us all up'. His politics had a freshness and optimism that won converts from every class and every nation - and ultimately from the very heart of the evil empire.

Yet his humour often had a purpose beyond humour. In the terrible hours after the attempt on his life, his easy jokes gave reassurance to an anxious world. They were evidence that in the aftermath of terror and in the midst of hysteria, one great heart at least remained sane and jocular. They were truly grace under pressure.

And perhaps they signified grace of a deeper kind. Ronnie himself certainly believed that he had been given back his life for a purpose. As he told a priest after his recovery `Whatever time I've got left now belongs to the Big Fella Upstairs'.

And surely it is hard to deny that Ronald Reagan's life was providential, when we look at what he achieved in the eight years that followed.

Others prophesied the decline of the West; he inspired America and its allies with renewed faith in their mission of freedom.

Others saw only limits to growth; he transformed a stagnant economy into an engine of opportunity.

Others hoped, at best, for an uneasy cohabitation with the Soviet Union; he won the Cold War - not only without firing a shot, but also by inviting enemies out of their fortress and turning them into friends.

I cannot imagine how any diplomat, or any dramatist, could improve on his words to Mikhail Gorbachev at the Geneva summit: `Let me tell you why it is we distrust you.' Those words are candid and tough and they cannot have been easy to hear. But they are also a clear invitation to a new beginning and a new relationship that would be rooted in trust.

We live today in the world that Ronald Reagan began to reshape with those words. It is a very different world with different challenges and new dangers. All in all, however, it is one of greater freedom and prosperity, one more hopeful than the world he inherited on becoming president.

As Prime Minister, I worked closely with Ronald Reagan for eight of the most important years of all our lives. We talked regularly both before and after his presidency. And I have had time and cause to reflect on what made him a great president.

Ronald Reagan knew his own mind. He had firm principles - and, I believe, right ones. He expounded them clearly, he acted upon them decisively.

When the world threw problems at the White House, he was not baffled, or disorientated, or overwhelmed. He knew almost instinctively what to do.

When his aides were preparing option papers for his decision, they were able to cut out entire rafts of proposals that they knew `the Old Man' would never wear.

When his allies came under Soviet or domestic pressure, they could look confidently to Washington for firm leadership.

And when his enemies tested American resolve, they soon discovered that his resolve was firm and unyielding. Yet his ideas, though clear, were never simplistic. He saw the many sides of truth.

Yes, he warned that the Soviet Union had an insatiable drive for military power and territorial expansion; but he also sensed it was being eaten away by systemic failures impossible to reform.

Yes, he did not shrink from denouncing Moscow's `evil empire'. But he realised that a man of goodwill might nonetheless emerge from within its dark corridors.

So the President resisted Soviet expansion and pressed down on Soviet weakness at every point until the day came when communism began to collapse beneath the combined weight of these pressures and its own failures. And when a man of goodwill did emerge from the ruins, President Reagan stepped forward to shake his hand and to offer sincere cooperation.

Nothing was more typical of Ronald Reagan than that large-hearted magnanimity - and nothing was more American.

Therein lies perhaps the final explanation of his achievements. Ronald Reagan carried the American people with him in his great endeavours because there was perfect sympathy between them. He and they loved America and what it stands for - freedom and opportunity for ordinary people.

As an actor in Hollywood's golden age, he helped to make the American dream live for millions all over the globe. His own life was a fulfilment of that dream. He never succumbed to the embarrassment some people feel about an honest expression of love of country.

He was able to say `God Bless America' with equal fervour in public and in private. And so he was able to call confidently upon his fellow-countrymen to make sacrifices for America - and to make sacrifices for those who looked to America for hope and rescue.

With the lever of American patriotism, he lifted up the world. And so today the world - in Prague, in Budapest, in Warsaw, in Sofia, in Bucharest, in Kiev and in Moscow itself - the world mourns the passing of the Great Liberator and echoes his prayer "God Bless America".

Ronald Reagan's life was rich not only in public achievement, but also in private happiness. Indeed, his public achievements were rooted in his private happiness. The great turning point of his life was his meeting and marriage with Nancy.

On that we have the plain testimony of a loving and grateful husband: `Nancy came along and saved my soul'. We share her grief today. But we also share her pride - and the grief and pride of Ronnie's children.

For the final years of his life, Ronnie's mind was clouded by illness. That cloud has now lifted. He is himself again - more himself than at any time on this earth. For we may be sure that the Big Fella Upstairs never forgets those who remember Him. And as the last journey of this faithful pilgrim took him beyond the sunset, and as heaven's morning broke, I like to think - in the words of Bunyan - that `all the trumpets sounded on the other side'.

We here still move in twilight. But we have one beacon to guide us that Ronald Reagan never had. We have his example. Let us give thanks today for a life that achieved so much for all of God's children.

13 Mickey Mantle's Eulogy by Bob Costas


You know, it occurs to me as we're all sitting here thinking of Mickey, he's probably somewhere getting an earful from Casey Stengel, and no doubt quite confused by now.

One of Mickey's fondest wishes was that he be remembered as a great teammate, to know that the men he played with thought well of him. But it was more than that. Moose and Whitey and Tony and Yogi and Bobby and Hank, what a remarkable team you were. And the stories of the visits you guys made to Mickey's bedside the last few days were heartbreakingly tender. It meant everything to Mickey, as would the presence of so many baseball figures past and present here today.

I was honored to be asked to speak by the Mantle family today. I am not standing here as a broadcaster. Mel Allen is the eternal voice of the Yankees and that would be his place. And there are others here with a longer and deeper association with Mickey than mine.

But I guess I'm here, not so much to speak for myself as to simply represent the millions of baseball-loving kids who grew up in the '50s and '60s and for whom Mickey Mantle was baseball.

And more than that, he was a presence in our lives-a fragile hero to whom we had an emotional attachment so strong and lasting that it defied logic. Mickey often said he didn't understand it, this enduring connection and affection-the men now in their 40s and 50s, otherwise perfectly sensible, who went dry in the mouth and stammered like schoolboys in the presence of Mickey Mantle.

Maybe Mick was uncomfortable with it, not just because of his basic shyness, but because he was always too honest to regard himself as some kind of deity. But that was never really the point. In a very different time than today, the first baseball commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis said, "Every boy builds a shrine to some baseball hero, and before that shrine, a candle always burns."

For a huge portion of my generation, Mickey Mantle was that baseball hero. And for reasons that no statistics, no dry recitation of the facts can possibly capture, he was the most compelling baseball hero of our lifetime. And he was our symbol of baseball at a time when the game meant something to us that perhaps it no longer does.

Mickey Mantle had those dual qualities so seldom seen-exuding dynamism and excitement, but at the same time touching your heart-flawed, wounded. We knew there was something poignant about Mickey Mantle before we know what Poignant meant. We didn't just root for him, we felt for him.

Long before many of us ever cracked a serious book, we knew something about mythology as we watched Mickey Mantle run out a home run through the lengthening shadows of a late Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.

There was a greatness about him, but vulnerability too. He was our guy. When he was hot, we felt great. When he slumped or got hurt, we sagged a bit too. We tried to crease our caps like him; keel in an imaginary on-deck circle like him; run like him, heads down, elbows up.

Billy Crystal is here today. Billy says that at his bar mitzvah he spoke in an Oklahoma drawl. Billy's here today because he loved Mickey Mantle, and millions like him are here today in spirit as well. It's been said that the truth is never pure and rarely simple.

Mickey Mantle was too humble and honest to believe that the whole truth about him could be found on a Wheaties box or a baseball card. But the emotional truths about childhood have a power that transcends objective fact. They stay with us through all the years, withstanding the ambivalence that so often accompanies the experience of adults.

That's why we can still recall the immediate tingle in that instant of recognition when a Mickey Mantle popped up in a pack of Topps bubble gum cards-a treasure lodged between an Eli Grba and a Pumpsie Green.

That's why we smile today, recalling those October afternoons when we'd sneak a transistor radio into school to follow Mickey Mantle and the Yankees in the World Series.

Or when I think of Mr. Tomasee, a very wise sixth-grade teacher who understood that the World Series was more important, at least for one day, than any school lesson could be. So he brought his black and white TV from home, plugged it in and let us watch it right there in school through the flicker and static. It was richer and more compelling than anything I've seen on a high-resolution, big-screen TV.

Of course, the bad part, Bobby, was that Koufax struck 15 of you guys out that day.

My phone's been ringing the past few weeks as Mickey fought for his life. I've heard from people I hadn't seen or talked to in years, guys I played stickball with, even some guys who took Willie's side in those endless Mantle, Mays arguments. They're grown up now. They have their families. They're not even necessarily big baseball fans anymore. But they felt something hearing about Mickey, and they figured I did too.

In the last year, Mickey Mantle, always so hard on himself, finally came to accept and appreciate the distinction between a role model and a hero. The fist he often was not, the second he always will be.

And, in the end, people got it. And Mickey Mantle got from something other than misplaced and mindless celebrity worship. He got something far more meaningful. He got love. Love for what he had been, love for what he made us feel, love for the humanity and sweetness that was always there mixed in the flaws and all the pain that racked his body and his soul.

We wanted to tell him that it was OK, that what he had been was enough. We hoped he felt that Mutt Mantle would have understood that Merlyn and the boys loved him. And then in the end, something remarkable happened, the way it does for champions. Mickey Mantle rallied. His heart took over, and he had some innings as fine as any in 1956 or with his buddy, Roger, in 1961.

But this time he did it in the harsh and trying summer of '95. And what he did was stunning. The sheer grace of that ninth inning, the total absence of self-pity, the simple eloquence and honesty of his pleas to others to take heed of his mistakes.

All of America watched in admiration. His doctors said he was, in many ways, the most remarkable patient they'd ever seen. His bravery so stark and real, that even those used to seeing people in dire circumstances where moved by his example.

Because of that example, organ donations are up drastically all across America. A cautionary tale has been honestly told and perhaps will affect some lives for the better.

And our last memories of Mickey Mantle are as heroic as the first. None of us, Mickey included, would want to be held to account for every moment of our lives. But how many of us could say that our best moments were as magnificent as his?

In a cartoon from this morning's The Dallas Morning News. Maybe some of you saw it. It got torn a little bit on the way from the hotel to here. There's a figure here, St. Peter I take it to be, with his arm around Mickey, that broad back and the number 7. We know some of what went on. Sorry, we can't let you in, but before you go, God wants to know if you'd sign these six dozen baseballs."

Well, there were days when Mickey Mantle was so darn good that we kids bet that even God would want his autograph. But like the cartoon says, I don't think Mick needed to worry much about the other part.

I just hope God has a place for him where he can run again. Where he can play practical jokes on his teammates and smile that boyish smile, 'cause God knows, no one's perfect. And God knows there's something special about heroes.

So long, Mick. Thanks.

14 Marlily Monroe's Eulogy by Lee Strasberg


Marilyn Monroe was a legend.

In her own lifetime she created a myth of what a poor girl from a deprived background could attain. For the entire world she became a symbol of the eternal feminine.

But I have no words to describe the myth and the legend. I did not know this Marilyn Monroe.

We gathered here today, knew only Marilyn - a warm human being, impulsive and shy, sensitive and in fear of rejection, yet ever avid for life and reaching out for fulfillment. I will not insult the privacy of your memory of her - a privacy she sought and treasured - by trying to describe her whom you knew to you who knew her.

In our memories of her she remains alive, not only a shadow on the screen or a glamorous personality.

I cannot say goodbye. Marilyn never liked goodbyes, but in the peculiar way she had of turning things around so that they faced reality - I will say au revoir. For the country to which she has gone, we must all someday visit.

15 Sir Edmund Hillary's Eulogy given by New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark

January 22, 2008

On 29 May 1953 a young New Zealander stood on top of Mt Everest with his climbing companion Tenzing Norgay.

That young man was Edmund Hillary, soon to be knighted, and to become the most famous New Zealander of our time.

Sir Ed’s achievement on that day cannot be underestimated.

He went to a height and a place no man had gone before.

He went there with 1950s, not 21st Century, technology.

He went there with well honed climbing skills, developed in New Zealand, Europe, and Nepal itself.

But above all, he went there with attitude – with a clear goal, with courage, and with a determination to succeed.

That attitude, Sir Ed’s "can do" pragmatism, and his humility as the praise flowed for him over the decades, endeared Sir Ed to our nation and made him an inspiration and a role model for generations of New Zealanders.

Today we all mourn with Lady Hillary, with Peter and Sarah and all Sir Ed’s extended family, knowing that their loss is personal and profound, and valuing their willingness to share this farewell with us all.

We mourn as a nation, because we know we are saying goodbye to a friend.

Whether we knew Sir Ed personally a lot, a little, or not at all, he was a central part of our New Zealand family.

My parents’ and grandparents’ generation followed Ed’s adventures.

Those of us who cannot remember the news of that great climb grew up knowing of the man and the legend, as today’s children do.

And how privileged we were to have that living legend with us for 88 years.

Prior to Sir Ed’s conquest of Everest, the mountain had often been described as the Third Pole. It had defeated fifteen previous expeditions. Reaching the summit seemed to be beyond mere mortals. It was considered one of our world’s last great challenges.

So when the news broke of the ascent by Ed Hillary, a beekeeper from New Zealand, and Tenzing Norgay, a Sherpa from Nepal, it made headlines around the world. This was one of the defining moments of the twentieth century, and earned these two brave men their place in history.

There then followed many other achievements of note.

Earlier this month, the fiftieth anniversary was observed of Sir Ed’s journey to the South Pole – when he became the first person to make the land crossing since Amundsen and Scott.

In Kiwi style, Sir Ed did the crossing on a tractor.

From the early 1960s, Sir Ed began the work which is his living legacy, founding the Himalayan Trust dedicated to the wellbeing of the Sherpa people in the high mountain valleys of Nepal, and supporting the education of their children and the development of health services.

Great tragedy struck Sir Ed and his family in 1975 with the death of Louise Lady Hillary and Belinda in Nepal. Yet Sir Ed was to carry on his work in Nepal, and for many years now June Lady Hillary, has been at his side, supporting him and the Himalayan Trust, and Sir Ed’s many other endeavours.

Sir Ed lent his prestige as patron to so many good causes. Schools and other institutions, organisations and facilities bear his name with great pride.

And Sir Ed also served our country with distinction as High Commissioner to India, based in New Delhi with accreditation to his much-loved Nepal.

Sir Ed described himself as a person of modest abilities. In reality he was a colossus. He was our hero. He brought fame to our country. We admired his achievements and the great international respect in which he was held.

But above all, we loved Sir Ed for what he represented – a determination to succeed against the odds, humility, an innate sense of fair play, and a tremendous sense of service to the community, at home and abroad.

Sir Edmund Hillary’s extraordinary life has been an inspiration to our small nation and to many beyond our shores.

As individuals, we may not be able to match Sir Ed’s abilities or strength, but we can all strive to match his humanity and compassion for others.

His values were strong; they are timeless; and they will endure.

May Sir Edmund Hillary rest in peace.