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National Memorial Day Concert 2019

Airs Sunday, May 26, 2019 at 8 p.m. & 9:30 p.m. on KPBS TV

Ursula Palmer and her daughter Gabriela at Arlington National Cemetery holdin...

Credit: Courtesy of Capital Concerts

Above: Ursula Palmer and her daughter Gabriela at Arlington National Cemetery holding a photo of husband/father SFC Collin J. Bowen. This year, the National Memorial Day Concert will share the inspiring story of this Gold Star family's journey.

PBS’s multi award-winning “National Memorial Day Concert” returns live from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol for a special 30th anniversary broadcast hosted by Tony Award-winner Joe Mantegna and Tony-nominated actress and star of TV’s THE WEST WING, LOADED and THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT, Mary McCormack.

Watch a preview of the 2019 "National Memorial Day Concert" featuring General Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret.), Sam Elliott, Patti LaBelle, Gavin DeGraw, Alison Krauss, Dennis Haysbert, Amber Riley, Christopher Jackson, Jaina Lee Ortiz, Justin Moore, Maestro Jack Everly and the NSO, and co-hosted by Joe Mantegna and Mary McCormack.

The 30th annual broadcast airs live on PBS Sunday, May 26, 2019, from 8-9:30 p.m., before a concert audience of hundreds of thousands, millions more at home, as well as to our troops serving around the world on the American Forces Network.

A 30-year tradition unlike anything else on television, America’s national night of remembrance takes us back to the real meaning of the holiday through personal stories interwoven with musical performances by the National Symphony Orchestra and guest artists.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Capital Concerts

Tony nominated actress and star of TV’s THE WEST WING, LOADED and THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT, Mary McCormack joins longtime concert host Joe Mantegna to co-host the 30th annual broadcast of the "National Memorial Day Concert."

The 2019 anniversary edition of the “National Memorial Day Concert” will feature the following stories:

75th Anniversary of the D-Day Invasion – featuring a performance by Academy Award-nominated actor Sam Elliott (“A Star Is Born”).

The concert will share the remarkable story of 98-year-old Ray Lambert (Elliott), a highly-decorated combat medic who landed on Omaha Beach in the largest amphibious invasion in history and a pivotal step in the Allied march to victory in World War II. As part of the first wave onto shore, Lambert quickly established a treatment area, saving soldiers, dragging them to safety and comforting the dying as best he could, even while being shot twice himself. He continued his efforts before being seriously wounded. Lambert’s story honors every man who landed on the beaches of Normandy that day.

Honoring D-Day Veterans

2019 marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the single most pivotal day in World War II. The 2019 "National Memorial Day Concert" will share SGT Ray Lambert’s story of bravery and pay tribute to heroes who sacrificed and died in service to our nation and the world.

Vietnam Valor and Brotherhood – brought to life by long-time friends acclaimed actor Dennis Haysbert (24, "Major League") and Joe Mantegna.

Fifty years since the height of the Vietnam War, the painful memories from their service remain fresh for many of its veterans. In 1969, our soldiers continued to fulfill their duty and carry out the missions their country asked of them. As part of a special 50th anniversary commemoration to honor the service and sacrifice of Vietnam War veterans and to thank them, the concert will share the story of two infantrymen - Ernest “Pete” Peterson (Haysbert) and Brad Kennedy (Mantegna) - who formed a brotherhood while serving in Vietnam and now meet each year at the Vietnam Wall where they remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Valor and Brotherhood

Ernest “Pete” Peterson and Brad Kennedy’s friendship began on the 23-day boat trip to Vietnam while serving together in the 11th U.S. Cavalry. Many years later, Pete and Brad found themselves again side-by-side, this time at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., where they reunite each Memorial Day and Veterans Day to be with those who understand and to honor their buddies.

A Gold Star Widow’s Journey – portrayed by television series star Jaina Lee Ortiz (STATION 19, ROSEWOOD).

For Gold Star families, every day is Memorial Day. This year, the concert will share the journey of one widow - Ursula Palmer (Ortiz) - beginning with the day her worst fears came true, just two weeks before her husband was due to return home. While “moving on” from this devastating loss was not possible, Palmer knew that for the sake of her daughter she would have to learn to move forward. Along the way she found solace and empowerment by co-founding a new chapter of Gold Star Wives, a virtual chapter for post 9/11 widows and widowers, and by helping wounded veterans and their families.

Finding Meaning After Tragedy

Gold Star wife, Ursula Palmer, and Gold Star child, Gabriela Bowen, remember their lost loved one, SFC Collin Bowen. In finding a community of support after his death, Ursula managed to turn her grief into healing through helping others who've experienced loss.

The all-star line-up also includes: distinguished American leader General Colin L. Powell USA (Ret.); Grammy Award-winning legend Patti LaBelle; multi-platinum selling singer, performer and songwriter Gavin DeGraw; Broadway and television star Christopher Jackson ("Hamilton," BULL); multi-Grammy Award-winning bluegrass icon Alison Krauss; SAG and Olivier Award-winning and Grammy Award-nominated actress and singer Amber Riley (GLEE, "Dreamgirls"); multi-platinum-selling country music star Justin Moore; and Patrick Lundy & The Ministers of Music; in performance with the National Symphony Orchestra under the direction of top pops conductor Jack Everly.

Photo credit: Courtesy of the artist/ Capital Concerts

SAG and Olivier Award-winning and Grammy Award nominated actress and singer Amber Riley (GLEE, "Dreamgirls") will perform at the 2019 National Memorial Day Concert.

AMERICAN IDOL Season 17 finalist Alyssa Raghu joins the show for a special performance of the “National Anthem.”

Photo credit: Courtey of the artist/ Capital Concerts

Alyssa Raghu AMERICAN IDOL Season 17 finalist joins the "National Memorial Day Concert" for a special performance of the “National Anthem.”

Also participating in the event are the U.S Joint Chiefs of Staff with The U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, The U.S. Army Chorus and Army Voices, The Soldiers Chorus of the U.S. Army Field Band, The U.S. Navy Band Sea Chanters, The U.S. Air Force Singing Sergeants, the Armed Forces Color Guard and Service Color Teams provided by the Military District of Washington, D.C.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Capital Concerts

A bugler plays"Taps" in honor of our fallen heroes during the "National Memorial Day Concert," broadcast live from the U.S. Capitol.


The concert will also be streaming live on Facebook, YouTube, the program website and will be available to stream on demand May 26 to June 9, 2019.


Your contributions are a central part of the Memorial Day narrative, honoring the sacrifice of our brave service members in uniform.

We encourage you to share your stories on our Wall of Remembrance, where we can grieve together as we pay tribute to the lives and legacies of those we’ve lost. Submit a remembrance of your own or to read moving remembrances submitted by others.


National Memorial Day Concert is on Instagram and you can follow @MemorialDayPBS on Twitter. #MemDayPBS


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 Grammy Awards, Country Music Awards, Tony Awards, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE and more.


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