National Memorial Day Concert: Live Tonight From the US Capitol Building

I have reviewed the National Memorial Day Concerts several years in a row and they are always top notch events with distinguished talent. This year, the 29th-anniversary show, is no exception. The concert will take place on the West Lawn of the US Capitol tonight, May 27, at 8 PM, and will be broadcast live on PBS

Gary Sinise at the National Memorial Day Concert. Photo by Marlene Hall.
Gary Sinise at the National Memorial Day Concert. Photo by Marlene Hall.

The list of talent is long: Joe Mantegna, Gary Sinise, General Colin Powell, Allison Janney, Graham Greene, John Corbett, Charles Esten, Brian Tee, Mary McCormack, Cynthia Erivo, Leona Lewis, Megan Hilty, Alfie Boe, Spensha Baker, The National Symphony Orchestra and the Military District of Washington.

The concert movingly honors our military members who have passed away while in service to our country, our active duty, and our veterans. The show spans World War I to the present day Afghanistan/ Iraq conflicts. In addition, the concert honors female veterans by honoring the 70th anniversary of the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act.

Joe Mantegna and Gary “Lt. Dan” Sinise handled MC duties with aplomb. Sinise pulls double duty playing two songs with the Lt. Dan Band and military service members. His rendering of “God Bless the USA” brings spine-tingling chills.  

Actress Allison Janney, making her first Memorial Day Concert appearance, and actress Mary McCormack, powerfully share a story about Silver Star recipient Leigh Ann Hester, the first woman to receive a Silver Star for combat. They also introduce female military members/ veterans on stage from all branches of service, including General Vaught.

Actors John Tee and John Corbett tap deep into the emotional reservoir recreating the harrowing story of Korean War buddies Joe Annello and Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura. Both men endured terrible battles and survived as POWs. Each received a hero’s welcome. Annello received the Silver Star and Hershey received the Medal of Honor, the moment eliciting tears from both recipients. Corbett shared his hopes that by participating in this concert, his art will help others.

Oscar-nominated actor Graham Green of Dances with Wolves echoed Corbett’s sentiments. Several of his family members served in the military and being part of this experience offers him a chance to give back. Greene honors the men and women of the Vietnam War by acting out the story of Purple Heart recipient Bill Rider who had to fight through Post Traumatic Stress (PTS). Rider gives back by helping others with PTS. (This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Khe Sanh.)

The gorgeous costumes and musical performances add even more emotional depth to the stories and the show.

The National Memorial Day Concert will be broadcast live on PBS from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol on May 27, 2018 at 8pm EST.

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Marlene Hall
Marlene Hall grew up an army brat and has lived all over the world and in Washington, DC where she was constantly exposed to theater and music. Marlene graduated from the University of Virginia where she wrote for the Cavalier Daily interviewing musicians. Commissioned as an Air Force officer, she served 8 years. She now works as a realtor with eXp Realty. In addition, Marlene dabbles in improvisational comedy and has taken classes at the famed iO Theater in Chicago and the DC Improv. She is very active in the DC charity and social scene and contributes her time to veterans’ organizations Team Rubicon and Team Red, White, and Blue. She also was a supernumerary in the Washington National Opera’s Carmen with opera singer Denyce Graves. She loves the music and theater scene in DC and goes to as many concerts and shows as possible.


  1. This will be my third time to write a comment. Last night I was looking forward to seeing the Memorial Concert but I was stuck in traffic in NYC and missed the first hour. Tonight, I tried four times to view it on my computer without success. The message was “unable to present the Concert. Try later. It was to be rebroadcasted last night on Channel 13 but it was not!! I’m disgusted!!


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