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Stars and Stripes Forever: The 35th National Memorial Day Concert

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Robert Tavares

May 6, 2024 - 11:15 am

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A Tribute to Valor: Celebrating 35 Years of Remembrance at the National Memorial Day Concert

Stars Align for a Historic Commemoration

In the very heart of the nation's capital, a remarkable event unfolds annually to honor the noblest of U.S. traditions – remembering and saluting the heroes who served in the American Armed Forces. This year, marking a milestone celebration, the National Memorial Day Concert returns for its 35th anniversary with a star-studded event live from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol.

The 90-minute spectacular blends the poignancy of dramatic narratives with the invigorating power of music, culminating in a tribute to our military men and women, their unwavering families, and a solemn homage to the valiant individuals who have laid down their lives for the ideals of our great nation.

Assuming the mantle of hosting duties are the acclaimed stalwarts of theater and television: Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise. Mantegna brings his Tony Award-winning charm to the platform, while Sinise offers his Emmy Award-winning gravitas, both uniting as passionate champions for veterans and active-duty members alike. The event is set to broadcast and stream on PBS, viewable nationwide on www.pbs.org/national-memorial-day-concert and YouTube, on Sunday, May 26, 2024, promptly at 8:00 p.m. E.T.

Uniting a Nation in Reflection and Gratitude

Michael Colbert, Executive Producer at Capital Concerts, articulates the event's unwavering purpose: "For 35 years, our mission has been to unite the country to solemnly reflect on those we have lost and to celebrate the true essence of the holiday. It's an honor to orchestrate a gathering that offers healing, commemoration, and a sense of shared community at the U.S. Capitol." The concert serves as a beacon, rekindling memories and awakening a collective sense of gratitude towards generations of American heroes who have served.

The 2024 edition of the National Memorial Day Concert will illuminate the night with profound segments dedicated to our nation's history and the individuals shaping it:

The Greatest Generation's Valor

A poignant World War II tribute is to spotlight Bryan Cranston, an actor with a storied career adorned with Academy Award nominations and multiple respected accolades. The segment venerates the Americans who served both in uniform and on the home front, painting a vivid recollection of the seminal moments that charted the course of victory in 1944—a pivotal year.

As part of this spectacular storytelling, the narrative of U.S. Army Veteran John T. "Jack" Moran unfolds, recounting his profound experiences in the Battle of the Bulge and his poignant remembrance of compatriots who stood beside him in defiance of tyranny. The tribute will also provide a moment of reverence for the members of this illustrious generation, deeming them the honor they deserve in a symbolic gathering on the nation’s stage.

The Enduring Legacy of Gold Star Families

Another compelling chapter to be showcased is the Gold Star Families Remembrance, a story delivered through the eyes of Emmy-nominated and Tony Award-winning actor and director BD Wong. The segment honors the fallen and their families, drawing on the story of Allen Hoe, a Vietnam Veteran and Gold Star Father. His narrative tracks the lineage of duty that Hoe followed into the service, one his two sons continued with distinction in the U.S. Army.

The touching account of First Lieutenant Nainoa K. Hoe, who made the ultimate sacrifice during Operation Iraqi Freedom, resonates with a profound sense of loss and the unfaltering quest for peace. A chance encounter at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial stands as a testament to the unbreakable spirit of Gold Star families, a story that will remain echoing in the annals of the country’s history.

Salute to the New Generation of Warriors

In an era shadowed by two decades of conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, the concert will acknowledge the struggles of a new generation of veterans—honoring not only their heroic deeds but also the burdens they carry. The narrative of Kirstie Ennis, a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran and amputee, is ready to be chronicled by Jena Malone. Ennis, through her extraordinary life and endeavors as an adaptive athlete, embodies the relentless spirit of survival and determination, inspiring countless others while remembering the fallen heroes who fought valiantly by her side.

A Symphony of Stars in Support of the Brave

Performances set to grace the stage are nothing short of spectacular: Cynthia Erivo, a beacon of talent with an array of prestigious accolades, including an Emmy, Grammy, and two Oscar nominations. She will be joined by country music luminary Gary LeVox, known for his Rascal Flatts pedigree and ACM awards. Singer-songwriter Jamey Johnson, a veteran of the Marine Corps Reserve with eleven Grammy nods to his name, is also to share his profound artistry.

The roster further includes Mary McCormack, a Tony-nominated icon of stage and screen; Ruthie Ann Miles, a celebrated songbird of Broadway and television; and Patina Miller, whose talents have adorned both the big screen and the theatrical stage. They, along with the venerable National Symphony Orchestra led by none other than maestro Jack Everly, complete an assembly of performers whose collective talent promises an evening of rousing performances and soul-stirring anthems.

An Ovation for Service

The concert perennially thrills with its Salute to Services, a segment featuring the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Service Color Teams. The display also includes esteemed ensembles such as The U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, The U.S. Army Chorus, The Soldiers' Chorus of the U.S. Army Field Band, The U.S. Navy Band Sea Chanters, The U.S. Air Force Singing Sergeants, and the Armed Forces Color Guard provided by the Military District of Washington, D.C.

The National Memorial Day Concert's homage extends far and wide, reaching troops around the globe through the American Forces Network, and accessible to all via PBS, streaming on www.pbs.org/national-memorial-day-concert and YouTube. The concert will become available as Video on Demand from May 26 to June 9, 2024.

A spirit of philanthropy is evident in the backing of Lockheed Martin as the lead corporate sponsor, with the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans returning as the primary underwriter, commemorating 40 years of influential scholarship programs. Several eminent organizations, including the National Park Service, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and PBS stations nationwide, provide grants ensuring this spectacular event shines across America’s skies.

Pioneering the Path of Patriotic Programming

Capital Concerts stands as a trailblazer, championing live patriotic television shows for over four decades. With a notable heritage that includes the acclaimed National Memorial Day Concert and A Capitol Fourth, the productions have become emblematic fixtures of national holidays, crystallizing the ethos of American freedom, unity, and respect for those defending it. Garnering more than 80 awards, the productions reflect a commitment to excellence appreciated nationwide.

The concert emanates from the combined efforts of Michael Colbert of Capital Concerts and WETA, Washington, D.C. Colbert spearheads an accomplished production team whose collective experience shines brightly across the most esteemed entertainment award shows, including the Oscars, Grammys, CMAs, and Tony Awards.

A Portal to the Heart of Patriotism

For those looking for deeper insights, additional information and imagery are available at the PBS Pressroom at www.pbs.org/pressroom. More details about the concert can be found at its dedicated website, http://www.pbs.org/national-memorial-day-concert/home/.

Social media channels extend the conversation, connecting patriots and enthusiasts across the nation on platforms such as www.facebook.com/memorialdayconcert, twitter.com/MemorialDayPBS, and https://www.instagram.com/memdaypbs/, with Tik Tok offering additional avenues for engagement under the handle @memdaypbs.

The 35th National Memorial Day Concert encapsulates the spirit of gratitude and remembrance, serving as a national forum for reflection and honor. Through the collective efforts of artists, storytellers, and military personnel, America commemorates the commitment and courage of those who have devoted their lives to preserving liberty. As the curtains rise on this annual narrative of heroism, a nation united in patriotic fervor looks on in commemoration and pride.

SOURCE Capital Concerts

In the end, the collective words of poets and heroes ring true: to honor those we've lost is to ensure their legacies endure in tales of bravery and freedom. The National Memorial Day Concert, with its illustrious 35-year tradition, bridges past and present, elevating the stories of those who have served to the forefront of our national consciousness. As each note of tribute reverberates across the West Lawn and into the hearts of Americans everywhere, the indomitable spirit of the United States of America is celebrated.