"This was a wonderful presentation! While we all want to listen to the music and celebrate happy times, it's necessary to hear the letters, the reminiscences and the horror stories of war. My heart goes out to all the disabled veterans as well as to those who have lost loved ones."
The 2005 “National Memorial Day Concert”
The 2005 concert commemorated the 60th Anniversary of Iwo Jima, honored our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, paid tribute to the work of the USO and mourned the passing of long-time Concert host Ossie Davis. New host Joe Mantegna led a stellar cast that included actors Gary Sinise and Charles Durning, singer and actress Vanessa Williams, country performer Trace Adkins, opera singer Harolyn Blackwell, General Colin Powell and other guests, along with conductor Erich Kunzel and the National Symphony Orchestra.
Noted military groups performing on the show were the U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, the U.S. Army Soldiers' Chorus, the Commandant's Own U.S. Marine Drum & Bugle Corps, the U.S. Navy Sea Chanters, bugler Sgt. Michael Ervin and the Marine Corps League.
Tribute to Ossie Davis
For more than 14 years, the “National Memorial Day Concert” on PBS was graced by the eloquent, dignified and compassionate presence of Ossie Davis. Last year, we honored the legacy of Mr. Davis's work on behalf of America's veterans and we celebrated his life. Ossie's beautiful wife Ruby Dee shared a poem she and Ossie used to recite together that spoke to their mission in life. We received so many e-mails inquiring about this poem that we want to share it with you here.
TODAY IS OURS
Today is ours; let's live it.
And love is strong; let's give it.
A song can help; let's sing it.
And peace is dear; let's bring it.
The past is gone; don't rue it.
Our work is here; let's do it.
The world is wrong; let's right it.
The battle is hard; let's fight it.
The road is rough; let's clear it.
The future vast; don't fear it.
Is faith asleep; let's wake it.
Today is ours; let's take it!
Featured in the book “My One Good Nerve,” By Ruby Dee. 1999. John Wiley & Sons. Page 168.
During World War II, when America's young soldiers needed a morale boost, a group with a special brand of "volunteers" was always there with a bit of support from the home front. Today that same organization is still so popular that is shows are known by just three letters: USO! Last year's concert included a special feature on the USO with television, film and theater actor and director Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band (www.ltdanband.com). With more than 11 USO tours to its credit, the Lt. Dan Band has an extraordinary commitment to entertaining and serving the troops.
Iwo Jima 60th Anniversary
In 2005, we honored the men who fought in the ferocious battle of Iwo Jima during World War II. We shared the moving story of Danny Bert Thomas and several other survivors of that battle, along with battle history and the origins of the famous flagraising photo. A tribute to the Marines included a performance by the U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps.