By Brian Williams, Anchor and managing editor
Just down the white marble steps from the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington Cemetery at 8:30 this morning, I called a news conference to order (with apologies delivered from the podium for fellow members of the press) in my capacity as a member of the Medal of Honor Foundation Board.
Before me in the audience: 34 recipients of the Medal of Honor. With me on stage: Retired General and former Secretary of State Colin Powell, whom I introduced to help with today's honors: the first-ever recognition of civilians -- the three national finalists for the "Above and Beyond Honors". (Read about the winners here, here, and here.)
This is National Medal of Honor Day, and this is the first time the recipients have done this -- putting the full weight of the honor bestowed upon them, behind an honor given out to others.
We'll feature today's news conference at the end of our broadcast tonight, but I'm just enormously proud of these men who have become my friends -- these 105 living recipients. One among them, Vietnam Veteran Paul Bucha, came up with the idea of the Honors and today's ceremony. I cannot express what an honor it is, of all the people I've been lucky enough to know in my life -- to stand at that podium this morning and look out at their faces -- and receive smiles of friendship back from them.
That they allow me in their company is an honor in itself. In our age of endorsements, these men could probably get rich on the honor their nation has placed around their necks. Instead, they are sharing it with others. I'm not surprised.
I hope you will join us for tonight's broadcast.