PBS Memorial Day Concert to air May 24, 2020

Featuring a tribute to our American heroes on the front lines of the pandemic crisis


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Capital Concerts announced that a special presentation of the NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT, hosted by Tony Award-winner Joe Mantegna and Emmy Award-winner Gary Sinise, will air on PBS and feature new performances and tributes filmed around the country to honor all of our American heroes.

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the traditional live concert on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol will not be held – to ensure the health and safety of all involved.

The special 90-minute presentation of the NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT will air on Sunday, May 24, 2020, as a celebration to the heroes currently fighting COVID-19. This year marks its 31st year as a way to honor and remember our troops, Veterans, wounded warriors, all those who have given their lives for our nation and their families.

“In this unprecedented time, when the nation needs it most, we will bring Americans together as one family to honor our heroes,” said Executive Producer Michael Colbert. “This has been the mission of the NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT for 30 years, and we look forward to sharing stories and music of support, hope, resilience, and patriotism.”

America’s national night of remembrance will feature new appearances and performances by distinguished American statesman, including: General Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret); Tony, Emmy and Grammy winner and two-time Oscar nominee, Cynthia Erivo; world-renowned four-time Grammy Award-winning soprano superstar Renée Fleming; country music star and Grammy-nominated member of the Grand Ole Opry, Trace Adkins; Grammy Award-winning gospel legend CeCe Winans; Tony Award-winning Broadway star Kelli O’Hara; Tony Award-nominated actress Mary McCormack; members of the National Symphony Orchestra under the direction of top pops conductor Jack Everly; and a special message from General Mark A. Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  Broadway and television star Christopher Jackson will open the show with a performance of the national anthem. The broadcast will also feature performances from previous concerts by Academy Award-nominated actor Sam Elliott; Oscar nominee and Emmy and Tony-Award winner Laurence Fishburne; and actor/producer/director Esai Morales.

Woven throughout the program will be messages of thanks and support from prominent guest artists for active-duty military, National Guard and Reserve and their families, Veterans, and Gold Star families; the messages include gratitude for for first responders, doctors, nurses, grocery clerks, truck drivers, postal workers – all those who are on the front lines, putting their lives at risk now in the fight against this virus.

Hosts Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise will also share several powerful segments that highlight stories of generations of ordinary Americans who stepped forward and served our country with extraordinary valor in its most challenging times.

The NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT airs on PBS Sunday, May 24, 2020, from 8:00 to 9:30 p.m. E.T., as well as to our troops serving around the world on the American Forces Network. The concert will also be streaming on Facebook, YouTube and www.pbs.org/national-memorial-day-concert and available as Video on Demand, May 24 to June 7, 2020.

Other participants

Also participating in new and some past selected performances are members from the U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, the U.S. Army Chorus, the U.S. Army Voices and Downrange, 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 Service Color Teams provided by the Military District of Washington, D.C.

The program is a co-production of Michael Colbert of Capital Concerts and WETA, Washington, D.C.  Executive producer Michael Colbert has assembled an award-winning production team that features the top Hollywood talent behind some of television’s most prestigious entertainment awards shows, including the ACADEMY AWARDS, GRAMMY AWARDS, COUNTRY MUSIC AWARDS, TONY AWARDS, and more.

Author

VAntagePoint Contributor

— VAntage Point Contributors provide insight and perspective on a wide range of Veterans issues. If you’d like to contribute a story to VAntage Point, learn how you can submit a guest blog at http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/how-to-submit-a-guest-post/

Comments

  1. Lea Ann Walker    

    Thank you for the greatly appreciated program again this year. We don’t know why so many of you didn’t like the addition of recognition of the first responders to the show. My husband is a Vietnam vet and we always watch, and will continue to watch the program.

  2. Steven Durbin    

    Unreal.
    the messages include gratitude for for first responders, doctors, nurses, grocery clerks, truck drivers, postal workers – all those who are on the front lines, putting their lives at risk now in the fight against this virus.
    Also stated in this article is that this thanks has been going on for 30 years.
    I’m pretty sure it hasn’t.
    Hope that this Memorial Day 05/24/2020 is not going to move the honor to living civilians.
    PBS you miss having the honor to honor Veteran’s. PBS you have Disgraced our country The United States of America.

  3. Christy Douglas    

    I am very very disappointed! Shut it off after the first 10 minutes and I will never watch it again!
    I am a veteran, and even I know Memorial Day is NOT about me. So it is also NOT about truck drivers, nurses, doctors…
    Shame on whoever allowed this. What a disgrace and a slap in the face to our fallen and their families!

  4. Dave Boettcher    

    As a veteran, I am extremely disappointed in the Memorial Day Concert.
    I and other veterans have our day of honor.
    Memorial Day is for those who died doing their duty in the armed services.
    I honor them.
    I am embarrassed that those who died and their families were not honored in the manner they deserved.

  5. Thunder Johnson Ret USAF DAV    

    Thank You to all Vets for there service and dedication and fallen heroes!
    My father crash 4 times in WWII and walk away, one time had to land in Russia. Russia kept the bombers, beat the Americans and toss them in jail. Later the Americans would escape and make it back.
    Hitler never caught on to this.
    My father had the crew surround the plane with there Colt 45s and the Russians surround them with there weapons.
    For 2 hours it was a stand off, the engineer fix the plane and they took off.

    My grandfather lost both of his sons in WWII.

  6. Melissa Preast    

    Very nice program – agree with other comments about true purpose of the event but for me the worst was playing the service songs in the wrong order. There is a protocol and order to be strictly adhered to – How can you get that wrong? Shame on the Department of the Army, the editors and anyone involved with the Service Medley. Epic fail – it so distracted me for the rest of the evening. Melissa Preast, First Sergeant ,USMC Retired (and former military bandsmen 1982-86.)

  7. Andrew S. Alvarez    

    I just wish we could get celebs who were actually VETERANS to host the event instead of actors – who played vets.

  8. Robert Lomboy, MSgt (Ret) USAF    

    Leave it to PBS and Hollywood to change the focus of Memorial Day away from our fallen military members. I think the VA is assisting them by making the wreath laying ceremonies closed to the public and banning the posting of flags on cemetery plots. Those are large open spaces and social distancing should not be an issue. Honoring my father, Alejandro B Lomboy MSgt (Ret) US Army – Philippine Scouts, Phil/Jap War vet, Bataan Death March survivor, Korean War vet.

  9. Kevin    

    BULLSHT! we honor our Veterans and those we have lost who have fought for freedom! First responders ,doctors , nurses helping to battle the COVID 19 ALREADY HAD THEIR FLY OVER! You dedicate Memorial Day for our service members who are no longer with us and honor our Military that continue to put their lives on the line instead of making this a political stunt out of it! Memorial Day is about remembering our veterans and military!

  10. Hugh Beebe    

    Michael Colbert,
    You have misunderstood the meaning of Memorial Day. It is disgraceful to abuse the significance of this national time devoted to acknowledging the sacrifice made by veterans in defense of their country, by shifting the focus away from it’s purpose. Pandering to the current public health crisis and celebrating current, living people’s efforts to deal with that is to turn away from the value of lives meant to be celebrated by Memorial Day.
    Approving this concert is also a terrible lapse of judgement by decision-makers within Public Broadcasting Service who display shocking indifference to the reason for this national event.

  11. Karen O'Connor    

    Memorial Day was established to honor those who gave their lives in defense of our nation. Period.

    I greatly appreciate all that Gary Sinise does for our military, and that they want to honor front line leaders in fight against COVID. But that is not the purpose of Memorial Day and it is disrespectful to use the Memorial Day concert for another reason.

    As a veteran with friends who lost family members I am sad to see Memorial Day diverted to another situation.

  12. Christy Heltzel    

    Wow. As a Widow of a Soldier killed in Iraq in 2005. I find this abhorrently offensive. MEMORIAL DAY is for remembrance of fallen Hero’s killed in the line of duty in SERVICE to this country. It’s not VETERANS DAY. It’s not an observance for heath care workers period. You all should be ashamed.

  13. Larry Shatto    

    I’ll keep my comment short and to the point.
    With all due respect, how about we keep it as it was designed!
    It’s to Honor those that have given their lives…PERIOD !
    ” Woven throughout the program will be messages of thanks and support from prominent guest artists for active-duty military, National Guard and Reserve and their families, Veterans, and Gold Star families; the messages include gratitude for for first responders, doctors, nurses, grocery clerks, truck drivers, postal workers – all those who are on the front lines, putting their lives at risk now in the fight against this virus”
    Larry Shatto

    1. Angela B Bergeron    

      I agree with Christy Heltzel. Pay tribute to the Covid -19 heroes in another way. Memorial Day is for our fallen military men and women. I am a Gold Star Mother and I don’t appreciate this change.

  14. Esteban Espinoza    

    PBS Failed to REMEMBER us Veterans from Desert Storm!. I contacted KRGV and PBS and no one TRIED to help. Shame on All parties. My comment will probably be canned but at least I tried.

  15. David J. Hastie    

    Just wish we could get celebs who were actually VETERANS to host the event instead of actors – who played vets.

  16. Joan Brocki    

    Thank You so Much! I watch every Year! Joan widow of VN Vet!

    1. Hugh Beebe    

      Too bad, Ms. Brocki, turns out they are turning away from the purpose of Memorial Day and intend to focus instead on living people currently working on public health crisis. You may be disappointed that they are trading on the value of those who died in service of their country to put on a cheap show featuring a couple of entertainers who never served in the military.

      1. Dave Boettcher    

        I am in full agreement with you, Hugh Beebe.

  17. stacey baier    

    Please honor my Father Charles G Baier who passed 05-11-2020, Served in the United States Marine Corp for 22 years and 5 months.. He is greatly missed ! ” Once a Marine always a Marine ”

    Thank you!

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