For well over 100 years, writers and poets have been trying to capture the feeling of Arlington National Cemetery. But 21-year-old Charles Montgomery — a laborer there — says it about as well as anyone
"It's like ... "It's hard to explain," he says.
No matter how hard Montgomery tried, he couldn't say anything at all, CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman reports in this week's Assignment America.
It's hard for everyone to explain, which is partly why the directors of Arlington have published a commemorative book — a photo book called "Where Valor Rests." Inside are some of the most telling images of Arlington ever published — pictures worth so much more than a thousand words.
The photos were shot over the course of two years by some of the nation's top photojournalists. They capture both the pomp, and the horrible circumstance, that are Arlington.
"We wanted to come up with a book that would tell the whole story of Arlington. Not everything is glamorous," Superintendent John Metzler tells Hartman. "There's an awful lot of work that goes on behind the scenes."
For example, in death, as in life, occasionally a soldier, in thise case, a headston, falls out of line — and there are workers here whose passion is to set them straight. Not so much as a bird dropping goes unnoticed.
The pictures cover every aspect of life and death at Arlington. All in all, it's an amazingly ambitious book — for such a tiny number of copies.
"A commemorative book will never be sold," Metzler says. "It will only be given to the families whose loved one was killed on active duty."
Rosemary Balion lost her son Christopher in Iraq. Of course, there's no memento — not a book, not a flag, nothing aside from getting her son back — that can ever take away one bit of the pain.
But Christopher always said if something happened, he wanted to be buried at Arlington. The hope is that someday, his mother will be able to look at the pictures and know her son is in good hands — and great company.
While the commemorative book with the seal and box was made specifically for next of kin and is not for sale, a very similar version is being sold at local bookstores. All proceeds from those sales will go to updating and printing the commemorative books for the families of soldiers lost.
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