Highlights of the Concert
Learn more about the stories featured on the 2017 National Memorial Day Concert.
For almost three decades, PBS has inspired viewers with the annual broadcast of the multi-award-winning National Memorial Day Concert dedicated to our men and women in uniform, their families at home and all those who have given their lives for our country.
The 2017 concert featured tributes to the last surviving Doolittle Raider, Colonel Richard Cole, and the 75th anniversary of that daring bombing mission over Tokyo, as well as the 70th anniversary of the United States Air Force and some of the most skilled aviators of World War II – the Tuskegee Airmen. The evening included spotlights on the healing journey of a Gold Star family from the Vietnam era, now supporting other grieving families from recent conflicts, and Captain Luis Avila’s story of courage, faith, perseverance and hope after being severely wounded in a roadside bomb blast. In addition, the concert honored the legacy of Jerry Colbert, Founder and Executive Producer of Capital Concerts, who passed away in January 2017.
Emmy and Tony Award-winner Laurence Fishburne stepped in for Gary Sinise to co-host the 28th annual edition of the National Memorial Day Concert with Tony Award-winner Joe Mantegna. Sinise will present a 75th anniversary salute to the Doolittle Raiders, the daring aviators who changed the course of World War II in the Pacific.
The all-star lineup for the event included: distinguished American leader General Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret.); world-renowned four-time Grammy Award-winning classical superstar Renée Fleming; multi-platinum recording artist and star of television, film and the Broadway stage Vanessa Williams; country music superstar Scotty McCreery; Grammy nominated, multi-platinum selling artist John Ondrasik of Five for Fighting; acclaimed actor John Ortiz; Tony-nominated actress Mary McCormack; acclaimed actor Robert Patrick; Broadway and television star Christopher Jackson; distinguished actress Ana Ortiz; legendary Irish Tenor Ronan Tynan; and the UK’s best-selling cross-over artist Russell Watson; in performance with the National Symphony Orchestra under the direction of top pops conductor Jack Everly. The gifted actress and singer Auli’i Cravalho opened the show with a special performance of the national anthem.