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National Memorial Day Concert

National Memorial Day Concert

Photo Credit:  PBS
  • Premiered: 
    May 27, 1990
    (Click date to see TV listings for that day)

  • Network: PBS
  • Category: Series
  • Genre: Special, Annual
  • Type: Live Action
  • Concept: 
  • Subject Matter: Holiday
  • Tags: Memorial Day

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Plot Synopsis

Held annually since 1990 on the eve of Memorial Day, the NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT is a free event on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol that honors America's military personnel, their families and all those who have given their lives for our country. Each event features music from the National Symphony Orchestra, with special performances by music superstars. The event aired live each year, except in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused the West Lawn concert to be cancelled; instead, PBS aired a virtual program with remote performances and appearances, as well as tributes to members of the military, veterans and front-line workers.
Hosted by Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise, the 2021 NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT premiered on Sunday, May 30, 2021 from 8-9:30pm ET on PBS (check local listings), from Washington D.C. and from around the US. The 32nd annual broadcast of the event features virtual performances and appearances by General 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. Mickey Guyton performs the National Anthem. Because of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the traditional live concert on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol is not being held and the program is a special pre-taped 90-minute presentation.

Plus, the 2021 NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT shares the following stories:

- Vietnam Nurses Tribute (performed by Kathy Baker): The concert will honor the more than 265,000 women who served during the Vietnam War era and pay special tribute to the sacrifice and heroism of the nurses who served in Vietnam, saving thousands of lives and comforting the dying in their final moments. The experiences of Diane Carlson Evans, founder of the Vietnam Women's Memorial in Washington, D.C., will be shared.

- 70th Anniversary of the Korean War (portrayed by Joe Morton): Now, 70 years after the Korean War, the concert will pay tribute to the more than 1.7 million Americans sent to fight in this brutal conflict, and the over 36,000 American lives lost. No group exemplified the courage and heroism of our fighting forces more than the 2nd Ranger Infantry Company. Taking on dangerous assignments, serving with distinction and honor, this elite Airborne unit was the Army's only all-black Ranger Infantry Company. On the cusp of our military's integration, these trailblazing heroes changed attitudes, and opened possibilities for all African American men and women in uniform.

- 20th Anniversary of 9/11 and Gold Star Families (featuring Steve Buscemi, Mary McCormack, and Bailee Madison): This Memorial Day, in a segment hosted by Steve Buscemi, the concert will commemorate the 20 years since the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, remembering all those who died that tragic day and in the twenty 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 service members and their families affected by a generation at war and share the poignant story of one Gold Star Family. Following the horrific 9/11 attacks, Staff Sergeant Joseph Phaneuf II was inspired to rejoin the National Guard and was soon deployed to Iraq and then Afghanistan. After five years of service, Phaneuf died in December, 2006, of injuries suffered when an IED detonated near his humvee during combat operations. Left to grieve were his wife Michele, a son and two young daughters. Since his untimely passing, Michele and Jordan, who was only 9 at the time, remember him and the sacrifices he gave for his country.



  • U.S. Capitol West Lawn - Washington DC USA