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A man you saw anchoring NBC Nightly News for years on Channel 10 paid a visit to East Tennessee on Wednesday. Tom Brokaw spoke to hundreds of people on UT's campus.

The gathering was part of The Senator Howard Baker Distinguished Lecture Series.

The award-winning newsman and best-selling author talked about some of the big ideas that shaped America during his lifetime: from the civil rights movement, to landing men on the moon, and leaps in technology born in places like Silicon Valley.

He also spoke to some of the more memorable news days in his career.

"I think the two defining events of my career, and there lots of them, were really the attack on America on 9/11 as a single event, and that was tough for reporters and those of us on the air because we didn't expect it, and we didn't know what was going to happen next, and we didn't know what it was going to lead to. I did say at mid-day that we were at war, and we have been at war ever since. And then the other big defining event, even larger than that was the collapse of the Soviet Union, when communism went down in Moscow and all its satellites. It transformed the world in a way that I didn't expect to see in my lifetime," he recalled.

Brokaw said he would like to see Americans return to a focus on public service, calling for leadership academies. The crowd also sang "Happy Birthday" to Senator Baker, who attended the lecture. Baker will turn 88 later this week.