0 7 min 3 weeks

Sunday night at 8pm on your local PBS station and streaming live on YouTube, the most watched annual Memorial Day concert celebrates its coral anniversary (35 Amazing Years) of remembering our fallen soldiers. Hosting the festivities once again are the dynamic duo of Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise. They will help guide us for ninety minutes of stellar performances and stories of the men and women who served our country and made the ultimate sacrifice.

Reporter Harry Crosland talked to the two hosts about significance of being here. Joe Mantegna said “for me, as I’ve often said, it’s the most important thing I do every year, did the first one in 2002 and I’m looking back ever since. And it’s just an affirmation in my mind that Memorial Day is the most important holiday we celebrate in this country, which allows us to celebrate all the other holidays we have. So, I’m just once again privileged, honored and grateful to be here.”

Fellow co-host Gary Sinise followed up with “It’s become an amazing tradition to be here each year. And the first year I did it. Joe asked me to come in 2005, I brought my band I was up on stage and looking at hundreds of 1000s of people out here. It was magnificent. And also, very moving. Because you know, the stories that we tell are very, very important, very meaningful, very impactful. So, it’s a great, it’s a great way to spend Memorial Day for sure.”

Actress Mary McCormack has performed at both NMDC and A Capital Fourth for many years and I asked her what brought for her for the 35th. “I mean, it’s a dynamic event. I’ve actually been doing it for eight years. I hope I get to do it forever. The first time I did it, I was just so moved that I I said to the producers, I’m coming back. I just wouldn’t miss it for anything. It’s the most important thing I do in my life” said McCormack.

Broadway star Ruthie Ann Miles returns for her second event with Capital Concerts and she’ll be performing “Aloha Oe” from her native Hawai’i. I asked her how did it felt to perform the song for tonight’s event. Miles stated “it feels it’s a real privilege to be able to sing a song that, that we all grew up knowing and loving and hearing and maybe the rest of the country in the world has heard it as you know, as a cover, you know, covered by all these incredible singers, but also, but to see it in terms of or for the for our country to hear it and see it in terms of how the song was written, which is a forever goodbye. And it’s not just saying I’ll see you later. It’s this could be this could be it. And so, I’m laying my heart before you and I’m saying goodbye until God willing, we meet again. And so, it’s a really emotional song. It’s a really touching song. And it feels like it’s an honor of course and it’s a privilege to be able to sing it here and, in a context, that perhaps people don’t recognize or don’t put together with this particular song.“

Bryan Cranston has wanted to perform at the concert and he finally get his wish. I asked how does it feel to finally be at the 35th concert and what he’ll be doing? “Joe, who’s a friend has been after me to come down here. And I’ve always been working. So, this time I told him wait a second, I am free. Let’s lock it in. So that’s why that’s why I was able to come down it’s better to do it in person. You know, we get so used to doing things on a two dimensional on a screen. And we think that’s intimacy. It’s not this is what it really is. This is connecting with people in a way that we have to keep reminding ourselves, be in person be present.”

“I am going to be reading a story about an enlisted man named Jack Moran, who from Wisconsin, he’ll be 99 in a couple of months. He’s spry and he’s active and he’s sharp. But it was he talks about enlisting and wanting to get out there and be a part of a victory celebration. And, you know, being a young man, he underestimates the severity of it, and how tough it was, and a challenged him and his friends to the death in many ways, he survived.”

BD Wong talked to Harry about the Gold Star Remembrance story he’ll be presenting tonight. Wong said “telling the story of Vietnam vet and Gold Star father, Allen Hoe, who has an incredible story of not only serving in Vietnam and the bad experience, but as a Gold Star father, being the dad of a young man that was killed in Iraq, and the incredible tradition of, of, of service that’s in his family and in in Hawai’i, where he is from, and there’s a few kind of wonderful plot twists and reveals in the story, which are wonderful. And I just heard a term today about wall magic, which is things that happen surrounding or near the Vietnam War Wall Memorial, and that this story is one of those examples of wall magic.

You can see this amazing concert TONIGHT AT 8pm EST/7pm CST on your local PBS stations or Stream It Live on the PBS YouTube channel

About The Author