May 19, 2015 11:34 AM EDT

Jimmy Fallon got serious for a moment Monday night, delivering a heartfelt message to the retiring David Letterman: “Like every kid who grew up watching him, [I] will miss him.”

Fallon became particularly emotional as he remembered Letterman’s reaction following 9/11.

“He’s always just there when you need him. I remember after 9/11, we needed somebody,” Fallon said. “The city was in shock. We’re all looking for answers. We wanted to see what Dave had to say and we looked at him to say something.”

“He said, ‘There is only one requirement for any of us and that is to be courageous, because courage, as you know, defines all other human behavior.’ We needed that. David Letterman is courageous. Have a nice retirement, Dave.”

Letterman, whose last show will air May 20, was the first late-night host to return to air after the terrorist attacks, for a somber taping of his show that featured Paul Shaffer leading the CBS Orchestra in a rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

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