Thank you for again giving us the best 90 minutes on television. Each year I look forward to the concert whose music, images and tales of personal sacrifice allow us not to celebrate Memorial Day but, more rightly, to be moved and inspired by it. Thank you for showing us what it really means to be an American.
MEANING & HISTORY
Purpose of the Memorial Day Concert
PBS’s “National Memorial Day Concert” Remembers the Sacrifices of America’s Veterans, Service Members and their Families
The Concert’s mission is to unite the country in remembrance and appreciation of the fallen and to serve those who are grieving. 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."
Perhaps the purpose of the “National Memorial Day Concert” is best expressed by the words distinguished actor Charles Durning spoke during the program:
“In this moment of remembering, we grieve for those whose lives have been taken from us. We mourn their loss tonight. Our grief is a fresh and agonizing wound. Each of the fallen is someone's precious loved one. All across America, we lift up our hearts to you who have to try and adjust to the sudden news of your beloved's death. We know you must bear this burden of grief in the most intimate and personal way. And we want you to know that we embrace you in our hearts and prayers.
"We see their names and see their faces… we connect to their stories … and through cherished sacred moments relived in recollections of them, we recognize each as precious in our sight. Though the family’s loss cannot be undone, the fallen are not lost to us as long as we summon each one back in our hearts and recall their smiles, their gestures, and their uniqueness. We grieve for them and recognize that their lives and dreams were sacrificed on our behalf.
"In remembrance and honor of each of them, let us courageously overcome our fears that so often isolate us from one another in grieving … and with loving kindness, find ways to reach out to console, comfort and care for one another in these days of war. Through our profound grief, we affirm nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love and respect we offer to each of them. They are precious in our eyes; we honor them and we love them.”
The “National Memorial Day Concert” features uplifting musical performances, documentary footage and dramatic readings that honor all Americans who have served or made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. It is the nation’s premier Memorial Day event, using the powerful medium of television to reach out to the many who are grieving around America and on bases throughout the world. It provides an outlet for loved ones to remember, grieve and begin to heal.