Laurence Fishburne hosts national Memorial Day concert

May 26, 2017 GMT

Kimberly C. Roberts

Entertainment Reporter

This weekend, as people across the country are enjoying their backyard barbecues, picnics in the park and celebrating the unofficial beginning of summer, PBS reminds America of the true meaning of the holiday when the 28th national Memorial Day concert, hosted by Emmy and Tony Award winner Laurence Fishburne and Tony Award winner Joe Mantegna, airs at 8 p.m., Sunday on WHYY.

According to the network, the concert’s mission is to unite the country in remembrance and appreciation of the fallen and to serve those who are grieving. For almost three decades, PBS has inspired viewers with the annual broadcast of the multi-award-winning 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.

Executive producer Jerry Colbert says, “We think of the agony of the mother or father who lost a child, the spouses and children left behind, the people who are wounded in body and soul. And we do this memorial service to remember and reach out to them. We must remember their sacrifices and continue the mission set forth by Abraham Lincoln to ‘care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan.’ “

The 2017 concert will feature tributes to the 70th anniversary of the United States Air Force, as well as some of the most skilled aviators of World War II — the Tuskegee Airmen. The evening will also include 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.

Joining hosts Fishburne and Mantegne, will be Gary Sinise, who presents 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 includes: distinguished American leader General Colin Powell L. Powell (Ret.); operatic soprano Reneé Fleming; multi-platinum recording artist and star of stage, screen and television Vanessa Williams; and “Hamilton” star Christopher Jackson. Actress and singer Auli’i Cravalho, the voice of “Moana,” will open the show with a special performance of the national anthem.

The concert is broadcast live on PBS as well as to our troops serving around the world on the American Forces Network. The national Memorial Day concert will be rebroadcast at 10 p.m. on WHYY.