Celebrate our brave men and women who fought — and fight — for America as we celebrate the 30th birthday of the National Memorial Day Concert on Sunday, May 26, at 7 p.m. (with a replay at 8:30 p.m.).
Filmed live on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol, this year’s festivities are hosted by Tony Award-winner Joe Mantegna and Mary McCormack (“In Plain Sight,” “The West Wing”). The program captures America’s national night of remembrance and takes us back to the real meaning of the holiday through personal stories interwoven with musical performances.
This year’s festivities feature presentations and performances by former four-star general and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell (Ret.), musicians Gavin DeGraw, Allison Krause, Patti LaBelle, Justin Moore and Amber Riley, along with the National Symphony Orchestra.
Several emotional tributes and remembrances highlight all aspects of military life, including:
- 75th anniversary of D-Day Invasion: Actor Sam Elliott tells the story of 98-year-old Ray Lambert, a highly-decorated combat medic who landed on Omaha Beach in the largest amphibious invasion in history and a pivotal step in the Allied march to victory in World War II. As part of the first wave onto shore, Lambert quickly established a treatment area, saving soldiers, dragging them to safety and comforting the dying as best he could, even while being shot twice himself. He continued his efforts before being seriously wounded.
- Vietnam Valor and Brotherhood: Narrated by Montegna and fellow actor Dennis Haysbert, the story marks 50 years since the height of the Vietnam War. As part of a special 50th anniversary commemoration to honor the service and sacrifice of Vietnam War veterans and to thank them, the concert will share the story of two infantrymen, Ernest “Pete” Peterson and Brad Kennedy, who formed a brotherhood while serving in Vietnam and now meet each year at the Vietnam Wall.
- A Gold Star Widow’s Journey: Portrayed by actress Jaina Lee Ortiz, it highlights the recovery of Ursula Palmer, beginning with the day her worst fears came true two weeks before her husband was due to return home. While “moving on” from this devastating loss was not possible, Palmer knew that, for the sake of her daughter, she would have to learn to move forward. She found solace and empowerment by co-founding a new chapter of Gold Star Wives, a virtual chapter for post 9/11 widows and widowers, and by helping wounded veterans and their families.
Other participants include the U.S Joint Chiefs of Staff with The U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, The U.S. Army Chorus and Army Voices, The Soldiers’ Chorus of the U.S. Army Field Band, The U.S. Navy Band Sea Chanters, The U.S. Air Force Singing Sergeants, the Armed Forces Color Guard and Service Color Teams provided by the Military District of Washington, D.C.