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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 2023 NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT premiered on Sunday, May 28, 2023 from 8-9:30pm ET on PBS (check local listings), at and on YouTube. A more than three decades long tradition unlike anything else on television, the 90-minute broadcast honoring the service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform, military families and all those who have given their lives for our country takes us back to the real meaning of the holiday through personal stories and tributes interwoven with musical performances.

The night features performances by: multi-platinum entertainer and TV/film actor Trace Adkins; electrifying husband-and-wife duo, Iraq War Army veteran Michael Trotter, Jr. and Tonya Trotter: The War And Treaty; five-time Grammy Award-winning Gospel legend Yolanda Adams; Grammy Award-nominated and CMA and ACM Award-winning country music star Jo Dee Messina; multi-platinum singer-songwriter Phillip Phillips; and the National Symphony Orchestra under the direction of top pops conductor Jack Everly.

In tribute to all the members of our armed forces, the annual audience favorite Salute to Services features the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Service Color Teams. Also participating are members from 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 2023 NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT also features the following segments:

- Paying Tribute to Gold Star Families -- with Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG Award-winning actress S. Epatha Merkerson (CHICAGO MED, LAW & ORDER); SAG Award-winning and Emmy nominated actor Dule Hill (THE WONDER YEARS) and acclaimed actor and singer Chosen Jacobs (SNEAKERELLA, PURPLE HEARTS, IT). The concert will remember our fallen heroes and the Gold Star families who carry forever the pain of having lost their loved ones. This year the program will share the story of three generations of one Gold Star family and their poignant journey through grief when the beloved oldest child, Sgt. Anthony O. Magee, is killed in action while on deployment in Iraq. Every member of the family must face a new normal where every day is Memorial Day.

- 50th Anniversary Return of Vietnam War POWs -- featuring SAG Award-winning and Emmy-nominated actor and director John Slattery (MAD MEN, SPOTLIGHT) and Tony Award-nominated star of stage and screen Mary McCormack (HEELS, WEST WING). American POWs of the Vietnam War endured unfathomable conditions, abuse, and torture. Fifty years after their release, the concert will share the story of Col. Carlyle "Smitty" Harris (Ret.) who was imprisoned by the North Vietnamese for 8 years while his wife Louise stayed resilient and strong on the home front. The tribute to Vietnam-era Veterans will honor and feature courageous POWs who endured, resisted and remained unified in the face of horrific captivity, and remember the more than 58,000 American lives lost in the Vietnam War and those who remain missing and unaccounted for.

- 70th Anniversary Korean War Armistice: On the 70th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice, the broadcast will remember the more than thirty-six thousand American lives lost, and pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of our veterans who bravely fought to defend freedom and bring peace. Heartbreak Ridge, Pork Chop Hill, Outpost Harry and Chosin Reservoir are just a few of the epic battles etched in the memory of those who survived this fierce and brutal conflict. Veterans of the Korean War will be honored at the concert.

- World War II Remembrance -- with Broadway and TV star Megan Hilty. The program will honor and remember veterans of World War II, the over 16 million Americans who served in uniform, and the more than 400,000 who died and hundreds of thousands more were wounded. Veterans will tell the story of the war through their own reflections. This special segment will also feature a tribute to the contributions of the Merchant Marines in the war.



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