Discuss as:

The protectors in dark glasses

By Lester Holt, NBC News anchor

I traveled to the Secret Service training facility in Maryland last week to tell the story of the men and women behind the dark glasses who put their lives on the line for the president and others. Before we pulled out the cameras they asked us to watch a video briefing about the agency, and I had to smile when I realized the voice in the narration was none other than Clint Eastwood. I figured it said an awful lot about how they must regard his performance as a Secret Service agent in the 1993 film "In the Line of Fire."

Before long, I saw for myself what it takes to prepare agents and uniformed officers for what is arguably one of the most important jobs in law enforcement. After all, they protect the leader of the free world.  We witnessed agents training on firearms, officers demonstrating explosive detection, the versatility of their canine units, and toured a virtual city where sniper attacks, explosions and car chases are all in a day's work.

The highlight for me was playing the role of a "protectee" stepping off an Air Force One mock-up, flanked by agents and met by a crowd gathered along a barricade line. I had pretty much guessed this little demonstration would feature some kind of a simulated threat, and I was not disappointed. You'll see what happened on my report tonight on Nightly News, but for now, suffice to say, the swiftness and precision of how my protective team reacted in this training demonstration took my breath away.

I hope you'll join us tonight for that, plus what President Obama told Brian Williams in an exclusive interview about General Motors as it prepares to enter bankruptcy on Monday.