"Not long after I first came to the anchor chair I briefly signed off using the word 'courage,'" Rather said, at the end of his final broadcast. "I want to return to it now, in a different way.
"To a nation still nursing a broken heart for what happened here in 2001, and especially those who found themselves closest to the events of Sept. 11; to our soldiers in dangerous places; to those who have endured the tsunami; and to all who have suffered natural disasters, and who must find the will to rebuild.
"To the oppressed and to those whose lot it is to struggle, in financial hardship or in failing health. To my fellow journalists, in places where reporting the truth means risking all. And to each of you: 'Courage.' "
Rather, 63, stepped down exactly 24 years to the day the position was handed down to him by Walter Cronkite. Rather said he plans to remain at CBS as a correspondent for both editions of news magazine "60 Minutes."
Chief CBS News Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer will act as interim anchor until Rather's permanent successor is chosen.