I had the best time attending PBS’ National Memorial Day Concert’s dress rehearsal with other military bloggers on Saturday.
The 29th annual broadcast of the National Memorial Day Concert, which airs tonight at 8 p.m. ET, will recognize our Korean War veterans; mark the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Khe Sanh, one of the fiercest battles of the Vietnam War; and pay tribute to the contributions of women in our military throughout history.
The concert airs live on PBS from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol on Sunday, May 27, 2018 from 8 to 9:30 p.m. ET before an on-site audience of hundreds of thousands, millions more at home, as well as to our troops serving around the world on the American Forces Network. The concert will also be live-streamed on PBS, You Tube, Facebook and www.pbs.org/national-memorial-day-concert and available as Video on Demand, May 28 to June 10, 2018.
Hosted by Tony Award-winner Joe Mantegna and Emmy Award-winner Gary Sinise, the all-star line-up includes:
- General Colin Powell
- Academy Award, Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actress Allison Janney
- Academy Award-nominated actor Graham Greene
- Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG Award-nominated actor John Corbett
- “Chicago Med” star Brian Tee
- Tony-nominated actress and star of TV’s “Falling Water” Mary McCormack
- Actor and country singer Charles Esten
- Tony, Grammy and Emmy Award-winning actress and singer Cynthia Erivo
- three-time Grammy Award-nominee singer/songwriter Leona Lewis
- acclaimed tenor and Broadway star Alfie Boe
The concert opens with” The Voice” Season 14 finalist and military brat Spensha Baker singing the National Anthem.
I listened to Baker rehearse her rendition of the National Anthem as well as “Lean on Me” on Saturday. What made the moment even more special was the fact that Spensha is a military brat; her father served for 30 years and her mom served for 13 years.
“For me the ‘National Anthem’ is as symbolic as it gets when it comes to America,” said Baker in a press release. “The fact that my parents served and defended this great nation instilled into me the love and national pride for America, our military and their families. The ‘National Anthem’ gives me the opportunity to show my unwavering love to those who served in our great military and for those who are sacrificing and serving today. The ‘National Anthem’ invokes pride, patriotism and honor within me. It’s an iconic symbol of this nation that can be shared with everyone, no matter what your background is.
The ‘National Anthem’ is America….The ‘National Anthem’ is me. I love this country!!”
She told us that she started her singing career singing on bases for soldiers. And the way she was singing at rehearsal you can bet she felt that singing the National Anthem is an honor. That girl has pipes! And when the chorus joined her for the Bill Withers song – I got chills. And let me tell you, I needed it with the heat and humidity.
Another one of the highlights was hearing Gary Sinse and The Lt. Dan Band rehearse. Not only was the band incredible but it is an honor to be near a man who has done so much for the military community. He truly believes in the mission.
As he said at the end of his set, “the mission of my band is honor, gratitude, and rock-n-roll.” He delivered that. Just wait until you hear it!
The first artists that I saw were none other than “EE-an Miller” from “My Big, Fat Greek Wedding” and D.K from “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.” You guessed it: John Corbett and Brian Tee! During the National Memorial Day Concert they are narrating a story of two friends from the Korean War who have still maintained their friendship some 68 years later!
Talked with John Corbett about his admiration of all military families. pic.twitter.com/ForSlz0DCw
— NextGen MilSpouse (@NextGenMilSo) May 26, 2018
Allison Janney and Mary McCormack have the opportunity to represent the women vets. When speaking to them afterwards, Janney remarked that this is “an honor” and she was “excited to be a part” of the National Memorial Day Concert. She added that she “got teary-eyed last night” during rehearsal due to the magnitude of what the women who served have endured.
McCormack added a “thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your loved ones.”
You can tell that no one is acting when announcing their gratitude.
Graham Greene is a huge character. I let him know that in our family, we are constantly flashing the “ta-tonka” sign from the “Dances With Wolves” movie. Before our photo together, he wanted to tell our servicemen and women to “hang in there and come home safe.” That is a sentiment permeates throughout the day.