By Brian Williams, Anchor and managing editor
Today's U.S. Census Bureau estimate tells us there are 306,073,676 people in our country. Of that number, there are 98 living recipients of the Medal of Honor. Of that number, 38 recipients are here in New York for tonight's gala annual dinner at the New York Stock Exchange.
We all gathered last night at a more casual dinner, and I've just returned from a meeting of our Medal of Honor Society Foundation Board at a Midtown hotel here in New York. Because President Obama called a news conference for tonight, and because of our live coverage and the need to do a special live feed for the West Coast at 9:30pm ET, I won't be able to attend tonight's gathering, and won't be able to perform my usual emcee duties. This is to publicly thank Lester Holt, who will so ably substitute for me tonight. He gets to be in the company of genuine heroes -- and they get to enjoy the company of my friend Lester, who is no stranger to that group, having served in this role before. In the meantime, we will compile tonight's broadcast and get ready for the news conference. We hope you can join us tonight.