Watch Mister Rogers Accept His Lifetime Achievement Emmy (and Get Ready to Cry at Work)

PBS Television/Courtesy of Getty Images
PBS Television/Courtesy of Getty Images / PBS Television/Courtesy of Getty Images

In 1997, Fred Rogers was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Emmy Awards. His acceptance speech is one of the most gentle, moving, humble, and powerful statements awards audiences ever witnessed. Even the way he accepts the award from Tim Robbins—in a gentle, curious manner, just standing back and calmly smiling at the crowd—it's amazing. As the clip ends, his standing ovation begins.

Esquire published an account of the memorable moment, writing:

"[Mister Rogers] went onstage to accept Emmy's Lifetime Achievement Award, and there, in front of all the soap-opera stars and talk-show sinceratrons, in front of all the jutting man-tanned jaws and jutting saltwater bosoms, he made his small bow and said into the microphone, 'All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, ten seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are ... Ten seconds of silence.' And then he lifted his wrist, and looked at the audience, and looked at his watch, and said softly, 'I'll watch the time,' and there was, at first, a small whoop from the crowd, a giddy, strangled hiccup of laughter, as people realized that he wasn't kidding, that Mister Rogers was not some convenient eunuch but rather a man, an authority figure who actually expected them to do what he asked … and so they did. One second, two seconds, three seconds … and now the jaws clenched, and the bosoms heaved, and the mascara ran, and the tears fell upon the beglittered gathering like rain leaking down a crystal chandelier, and Mister Rogers finally looked up from his watch and said, 'May God be with you' to all his vanquished children."

You can witness the speech for yourself below.