Behind The Scenes At Arlington Cemetery

Nicole Hitzges, step-sister of Army Spc. Chad Keith, is comforted by an unidentified serviceman at the funeral for Sgt. Keith on August 1, 2003, at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va.
AP (file)
For well over a hundred years, writers and poets have been trying to capture the feeling of Arlington National Cemetery. But 21-year-old Charles Montgomery — a laborer there — said it about as well as anyone

"It's like…hmmm…" Montgomery said.

No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't say anything at all.

"It's hard to explain," Montgomery said.

It's hard for everyone to explain, which is partly why the directors of Arlington have published this commemorative book — a photo book called "Where Valor Rests." Inside, 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. And they capture both the pomp, and horrible circumstance, that is Arlington.

"We wanted to come up with a book that would tell the whole story of Arlington. Not everything is glamorous," Superintendent John Metzler told CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman. " There's an awful lot of work that gote on behind the scenes."

For example, in death, as in life, occasionally a soldier 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, an amazingly ambitious book — for such a tiny number of copies.

"A commemorative book will never be sold," Metzler said. "And 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 her son back — that could ever take away one bit of the pain.

But Christopher always said if something happened, he wanted to be buried here. And 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.