PBS’ NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT, America’s national night of remembrance, returns live from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol hosted by Tony Award-winner Joe Mantegna and Emmy Award-winner Gary Sinise, acclaimed actors who are dedicated to veterans’ causes and supporting our troops in active service. 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 34th annual NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT will air on PBS and stream on www.pbs.org/national-memorial-day-concert and YouTube on Sunday, May 28, 2023 at 8:00 p.m. E.T.
This production is signatory with the WGA under the public television agreement, which continues in effect. Therefore, the NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT on PBS is not affected by the WGA strike on commercial film and television, and will once again pay tribute to all of our American heroes this year as it has for over three decades.
“We are proud to continue this national tradition on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol that brings us together as one family of Americans to support our heroes and remember the more than one million Americans who have given their lives for our country since the dawn of the republic,” said Executive Producer Michael Colbert, Capital Concerts.
The 2023 NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT will feature 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 Dulé 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.
The deeply moving and reverential night will also feature 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 NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT airs on PBS Sunday, May 28, 2023, from 8:00 to 9:30 p.m. E.T., as well as to our troops serving around the world on the American Forces Network. The concert will also be streaming on www.pbs.org/national-memorial-day-concert and YouTube and available as Video on Demand, May 28 to June 11, 2023.