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Memorial Day concert aims to remember fallen soldiers

By Caitlin Orton

For the Deseret News

Published: Friday, May 27 2011 2:59 p.m. MDT

Joe Mantegna ("Criminal Minds") and Gary Sinise ("CSI: New York") co-host the 22nd broadcast of this annual concert, an event that has become the nation's memorial service.

Capital Concerts

While many take the Memorial Day weekend to camp, barbecue or spend time with family and friends, U.S. veterans, troops and families of lost soldiers will be honored at the National Memorial Day concert.

The concert will be broadcast live Sunday from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol to remember lost, injured and distinguished soldiers. The concert was founded 22 years ago by Jerry Colbert, now the executive producer of the concert, and has been a staple of the Memorial Day holiday ever since.

"I thought we needed to get back to remembrance and thanks," said Colbert, recalling his reasons for starting the concert. "I felt that holidays used to mean a lot in America, and we've made them into these three-day weekends. I think we need more meaning to bring the nation together."

Joe Mantegna of "Criminal Minds" and Gary Sinise of "CSI NY" will host the concert for the sixth consecutive year. Both men have dedicated extensive time to supporting troops and fundraising for veteran causes, according to the PBS website.

The concert will commence with a segment dedicated to the thousands of 9/11 victims and their families.

"Nearly 10 years after the events of 9/11 and the terrorist attacks orchestrated by Osama bin Laden, our nation is experiencing a renewed sense of national unity," according to the website. "(The concert) will open with a special segment remembering those who lost their lives that day and their loved ones … Daniel Rodriguez, the New York City cop who sang at more than 100 memorial services, will perform."

Celebrities in the film and music industries, including Dianne Wiest, B.B. King, Kris Allen, Forest Whitaker and several others, will join Rodriguez. The National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Jack Everly, will accompany the performers throughout the concert.

In addition to the 9/11 segment, the concert will include a tribute to World War II veterans marking the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. In addition, a story of the daughter of a lost Vietnam soldier will be shared, and retired Gen. Colin Powell will give thanks to troops in Iraq.

"They are our sons and daughters, husbands, friends and sweethearts," Powell said in a news release. "We honor the sacrifices each of them has made for us, and we respect the deep sacrifices their families have also made. They are the spirit — and the strength — of America."

Throughout the concert, performers will share their talents and gratitude to men and women in uniform, while photographs and presentations will aim to help heal those who have lost loved ones in action.

"Most of all, it's to make Memorial Day a very special day and to remember those who have died for this country, to have the spirit, tone, music, scripts and stories so we don't forget the sacrifice they made," Colbert said. "One day a year we should remember them and reach out and say 'thank you.'"

The concert will be broadcast live on KUED Ch. 7 at 7 p.m.

Email: corton@desnews.com

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