The fallout from the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection continues. The Capitol’s West Lawn, home of the National Memorial Day concert, remains blocked off for security reasons. That closing, combined with the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, have forced organizers again to go remote for the beloved event.
Would the concert have returned to normal without the security issues? It’s hard to say, but there’s a good chance that some kind of in-person show could’ve been organized as COVID-19 restrictions are being lifted around the country.
Gary Sinise and Joe Mantegna will return to host the National Memorial Day Concert: A Night of Remembrance, which will air as usual on PBS stations around the country and the American Forces Network on Sunday, May 30, from 8-9:30 p.m. ET. The concert will be streamed on Facebook, YouTube and at www.pbs.org/national-memorial-day-concert. If you miss it on Sunday, you can watch the concert available via Video on Demand from May 30 to June 13, 2021.
We’ll get a pre-taped, 90-minute celebration that will feature appearances by Gen. Colin Powell, Gladys Knight, Vince Gill, Sara Bareilles, Alan Jackson, Denyce Graves, The Four Tops, Steve Buscemi, Joe Morton, Brian D'arcy James, Kathy Baker, Mary McCormack, Bailee Madison and the National Symphony Orchestra. If that’s not impressive enough, they’ve also booked new country music sensation Mickey Guyton to sing the national anthem.
Viewers know the drill. We’ll get moving personal stories interwoven with inspiring musical performances for a patriotic event unlike any other on television.
A Vietnam Nurses Tribute performed by Baker, the Emmy Award-winning “Picket Fences” actor, will honor the more than 265,000 women who served during the Vietnam War era. Baker will pay special tribute to the sacrifice and heroism of the nurses who served in Vietnam and saved thousands of lives while comforting the dying.
The concert will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Korean War with a presentation by Morton, the Emmy Award-winning “Scandal” actor. More than 1.7 million Americans were sent to fight on the Korean Peninsula, and over 36,000 American lost their lives. Morton will highlight the 2nd Ranger Infantry Company, an elite Airborne unit that was the Army’s only all-Black Ranger unit.
2021 will mark the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and Buscemi will host a commemoration of all those who died that tragic day and in the 20 years since in service to our nation. It was a pivotal time for the country, and many Americans were inspired to join our all-volunteer armed forces. The concert will honor these volunteer service members and how their families have been affected by a generation at war. The event will pay tribute to the Gold Star family of National Guard Staff Sgt. Joseph Phaneuf II, who was killed by an IED in 2006.
Let’s hope we can all gather outdoors again at the Capitol in 2022 for the Memorial Day concert, unmasked and unthreatened. Until then, we can watch from home and be reminded of how special this event can be.
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