Neeson received an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, Queens University Belfast, at the British Consulate in New York on Wednesday.
The actor, who left college before graduating, was joined by his two sons with Richardson -- Michael, 13, and Daniel, 12 -- who sat close to the podium while their dad took the stage to accept the honor.
And after a nervous start, Neeson went on give a touching tribute to actress Richardson, describing in the words of poet Paul Muldoon how art helps to heal the heart, according to Irish Central.
He began, "Everybody assumes that actors are great public speakers. It's terrifying. Forgive me for reading it... (Art) builds from pain, from misery, from a deep-seated hurt, a monument to the human heart that shines like a golden dome among roofs rain-glazed and leaden...
"I think it is a message that a university always gives its students in the end: It's time to move on, get on with your life. I got on with mine, and I'm still getting on."
Richardson died from a traumatic brain injury on March 18, two days after she was involved in a skiing accident on the slopes of Mont Tremblant in Montreal.
The couple was married for 14 years.
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