By Brian Williams, Anchor and managing editor
Today I'm remembering where I was five years ago: watching the statue fall in Baghdad -- on television, along with the late Ret. General Wayne Downing. We were in a hotel room in Kuwait, covering the start of the war and waiting, impatiently, for the opportunity to fly into Baghdad with the U.S. military. We got in on our second try, about 24 hours after the statue was torn down (it was a harrowing flight with U.S. Special Forces that I was told not to remember). And in our newsroom today is a man who was there -- standing at the base of the statue to watch it all unfold. Tonight we'll ask Richard Engel what that was like.
Thanks to Ben Clammer for a great post. First, Ben, you're right: recipients of the Medal of Honor are never to be referred to as "winners" of the Medal. As they will tell you, in gently (some not so gently) correcting that mistake, they didn't "win" anything. Quite the opposite -- so many of them lost their very best friends. While I heard at least one network make that mistake last night, the distinction is drilled into my mind. I'll tell you something else: I am, indeed, in an enviable position. I get to hang out with some of the best men this country has ever produced. The time I get to spend with Medal of Honor recipients is so wonderful, so empowering and such an honor...I count my blessings often that I get to simply inhale the same air. I call them all rock stars. I told that exact same thing to one of the 105 living recipients yesterday -- who, with characteristic modesty, waved away my comment like a fly. But I meant it. Thanks for what you said, Ben.
For all of you with travel plans on American Airlines, my condolences. We'll cover that story and the rest of the day's news tonight. We look forward to having you join us, and we appreciate your business.