National Memorial Day Concert

A Marine Bugler salutes after playing taps at the World War II Memorial.

2016 Concert Features

Arlington Cemetery: A Gold Star Mother’s Perspective

Established during the Civil War, Arlington National Cemetery is one of the most recognizable and hallowed burial grounds in the United States. Section 60 is designated as the final resting place for more than a thousand American troops killed while serving their country in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Nearly every weekend, Paula Davis travels here to visit the grave of her son -– her only child -– Private First Class Justin R. Davis, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2006. Paula is rarely alone when she grieves; she’s part of a group of mourning family members who make the pilgrimage to Section 60 on a regular basis.

The 2016 National Memorial Day Concert shared Paula Davis’ story of grief and remembrance.

Vietnam: Commemorating American Service and Sacrifice

At the height of the Vietnam War, 1st LT Jack Farley (USA) was drafted and served in the 25th Infantry Division, the Wolfhounds. On January 10, 1969, Viet Cong forces began to shell Farley’s support base with mortar fire. One of the shells exploded next to him, sending shrapnel into his body. For Farley, his toughest battle would be in the months and years ahead. He lost his leg above the knee and, along with it, the dream of the life he’d planned for himself.

Jack’s inspirational journey to find his new life’s purpose was shared on the 2016 National Memorial Day Concert

The Italian Campaign: Battle of Anzio

Private First Class Alton W. Knappenberger, of the 3rd Infantry Division, was one of the thousands of Americans bogged down at the front. Nicknamed “Knappie” by his friends, the twenty-year-old farm boy grew up hunting rabbits and birds in the forests of eastern Pennsylvania. The marksmanship he perfected in his youth would play a crucial role as the Allies struggled to hold the line in early 1944 and lead to his being awarded the Congressional Medal Honor, the highest decoration for valor in action against an enemy force.

The 2016 National Memorial Day Concert highlighted Alton’s incredible story of bravery and heroism in the face of adversity.

2015 Concert Features

Disabled Veterans Inspire a Memorial

In the fall of 1966, on a quiet Sunday morning in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, Ted Strong tripped a land mine that severed his right arm and later led to amputation of his right leg at the hip.

Ted’s life since then — learning to walk again, graduating from college on the GI bill, raising a family — is a lesson in resilience and compassion.

Ted’s story, showcased during the 2015 National Memorial Day Concert, is just one of many shared at the recently created American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Supporting Our Gold Star Children

Cameron and Bayleigh Dostie were just starting back to school in September 2005 when their father, Shawn, deployed to Iraq. When a roadside bomb struck his unit’s Humvee, Shawn threw himself in the way of the hit, sacrificing his life so that three platoon-mates would live. Shawn's children became members of a special and solemn group: Gold Star children: survivors whose parents died while serving in the U.S. military.

The 2015 National Memorial Day Concert continued its tradition of sharing Gold Star stories and explained how this newest generation of Gold Star children need not make their journey alone.

The End of WWII: Commemorating the Allied Victory

Seventy years ago, the Allies' victories in Europe and the Pacific finally brought an end to World War II. Over 400,000 U.S. troops were killed serving their country and more than 60 million men, women and children lost their lives worldwide.

The 2015 National Memorial Day Concert welcomed World War II veterans onstage — among them, Lester M. Bornstein, a retired corporal who served in five campaigns from Normandy to Czechoslovakia.

2014 Concert Features

Wounds of Afghanistan — A Story of Inspiring Resilience

The use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in the conflict in Afghanistan has resulted in devastating injuries. Marine sergeant John Peck was gravely injured in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province in 2010, when an IED exploded underneath his feet. He woke up two months later at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., after 29 surgeries and 43 pints of transfused blood, as a quadruple amputee.

On the 2014 National Memorial Day Concert, we shared the story of John’s inspiring resilience.

A Mother’s Loss

Behind every man and woman at war is a family on the home front. U.S. Army Ranger Kristofor Stonesifer was a brave and committed young American whose life goals included becoming a service member. When he made the ultimate sacrifice for his country, his family did too.

On the 2014 National Memorial Day Concert, we told the story of Ruth Stonesifer, who became the first Operation Enduring Freedom mother to take on the national presidency of the American Gold Star Mothers.

Commemorating D-Day — The Beginning of the End of WWII

On the 2014 National Memorial Day Concert we commemorated the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the Allied invasion of Normandy that turned the tide of World War II. Perhaps the most desperate mission of the entire invasion was that of the U.S. 2nd Ranger Battalion, known as Dog Company. Their harrowing attack on the German cannons atop the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc was shared on the National Memorial Day Concert, in a dramatic presentation along with a musical tribute to the “greatest generation.”

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