Eight broadcasts 25th annual National Memorial Day Concert, honoring veterans- May 25

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The program will include appearances by former Secretary of State and retired Army Gen. Colin L. Powell; Gary Sinise, who portrayed Lt. Dan Taylor in the film Forrest Gump and founded the “Lt. Dan Band” that performs nearly 50 concerts a year for military bases; and the National Symphony Orchestra under the direction of top pops conductor Jack Everly. The show will feature talent by six military ensembles, including the U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, the U.S. Army Chorus, the Soldiers’ Chorus of the United States Army Field Band, the U.S. Navy Band Sea Chanters, the U.S. Air Force Singing Sergeants and Service Honor Guards provided by the Military District of Washington, D.C.

The all-star lineup also includes two-time Academy and Emmy Award-winning actress Dianne Wiest; country music sensation and THE VOICE 2013 winner Danielle Bradbery; Broadway and television star Megan Hilty; musical prodigy and classical crossover star Jackie Evancho; and world-renowned tenor Anthony Kearns; in performance with the National Symphony Orchestra under the direction of top pops conductor Jack Everly (additional artists to be announced).

The 2014 event will feature the following segments:

  • As the war in Afghanistan winds down, the program will recognize America’s service men and women with a special “Welcome Home” to thank veterans who served in Afghanistan, including a musical salute and featuring:
    • A story about a critically wounded veteran suffering from severe physical injuries and the grave invisible wounds of war.
    • The story of Ruth Stonesifer, mother of the first serviceman to die in Afghanistan. His service inspired her to become actively involved with Gold Star Mothers, helping other mothers with their loss, grief and healing as they move forward with their lives. Stonesifer recalls, “When I could look past the Rangers caring for my son’s casket and glanced up I could see that all the construction workers at the airport had stopped and placed their hands over their hearts. That was the ‘real tribute’ I remember that day—total strangers paying respect for a fallen soldier.”
  • The 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of the Normandy beaches of France will be commemorated as a seminal moment that turned the tides of war in favor of the Allies. World War II veterans who participated in the D-Day invasion will be honored and featured in this tribute to the sacrifices of our nation’s Greatest Generation.

The broadcast will be supported by a resource-rich website at pbs.org/memorialdayconcert. Highlights include a “Virtual Wall of Remembrance,” where viewers can share tributes to our veterans and fallen heroes; suggestions for what viewers can do to support veterans and their loved ones; and resources for service members and their families.  The program is a co-production of Jerry Colbert of Capital Concerts and WETA, Washington, D.C.

The National Memorial Day Concert is made possible by grants from the Lockheed Martin Corporation, the National Park Service, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Department of the Army, General Dynamics, PBS and public television stations nationwide. Air travel is provided by American Airlines.

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