Transcript for Richard Nixon's Famous Last Words From the Oval Office
It was 40 years ago today that Richard Nixon walked out of the white house for the very last time. The only president to leave office. Now we're hearing his personal recollection from the final moments to an interview he gave to a former aide. Here's ABC's Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny. Reporter: Richard Nixon's famous last words from the oval office. I have never been a quitter. To leave office before my term is completed is of harm to every instinct in my body. But as president, I must put the interests of America first. Reporter: We know what happens next, but for the first time in a generation, we hear it in his own voice. All of the family was gathered in the west hall, and then suddenly they all got up and came around and surrounded me, sort of a huddle, sort of a family embrace. Saying nothing. And saying everything. Reporter: He recalls how that day, August 9th, 1974, unfolded. And how he said his good-byes to those around him. Spoke from the heart. Told them that they must not allow what happened to me to discourage them. Reporter: And then, time to go. I kind of raised my hand. I didn't know whether it was a salute or a wave. But that was it. As the helicopter began to rise, I heard Mrs. Nixon, who was sitting in the seat next to us, speaking to no one in particular, but to everyone, and she said, it's so sad. It's so sad. Reporter: Sad for a president. Sad for a nation. Jeff Zeleny, ABC news, Washington.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.