Capitol Concerts once again stuns with the 2018 National Memorial Day Concert putting the focus on what truly matters on Memorial Day.
As they have for the last 29 years, PBS broadcast the National Memorial Day Concert from the west lawn of the U.S. Capital on Memorial Day Eve. This year featured Academy and Emmy Winner Allison Janney, Charles Esten (Nashville), Brian Tee (Jurassic World, Chicago Med), Spensha Baker (The Voice) and many more talented artists. Gary Sinise and Joe Mantegna hosted, as they have for years.
While A Capitol Fourth is a party celebrating America’s birthday, National Memorial Day Concert is a more somber affair honoring our military heroes who have sacrificed so much for the good of the country. War stories are told through reenactments that make even those with the hardest hearts tear up. Brian Tee and John Corbett told the story of Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura and Joe Annello. These two Korean War POWs were captured by Chinese troops. Anello was badly hurt, but Hershey refused to leave him. The Chinese gave Hershey an ultimatum: walk and abandon his friend or remain a POW with him. Hershey remained in a POW camp for two years. Tee told me, “The story is so gripping and so touching. It’s about a story of friendship.”. There was not a dry eye to be found in the tens of thousands of people watching the show live in Washington, DC.
Spensha Baker, from Season 14 of The Voice, knows a thing about military sacrifice. The daughter of two military veterans, she opened the show by singing The National Anthem. “I’m grateful I grew up in a military family because obviously I have a greater appreciation for the freedoms that I have….It’s also a cool way for me to honor my own parents.” Her flawless, gospel tinged voice also shined on the show stopping finale, Stand By Me.
Charles Esten, in line with his Nashville character, performed Billy Ray Cyrus’ Some Gave All. He spoke about how important National Memorial Day Concert is to honoring the real meaning of Memorial Day. “I think the things that we sometimes take for granted are a little sweeter and a little more special when you see why we shouldn’t.”
PBS National Memorial Day Concert honors the men and women who sacrifice so much – and those who have sacrificed it all – for us to enjoy the freedoms that we exercise. The brave men and women who have lost their lives so we could have a better one can never be honored enough – but the National Memorial Day Concert sure does it so beautifully.