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Published:May 22nd, 2008 08:18 EST
Judyth Piazza chats with Jerry Colbert, National Memorial Day Concert (2008)

Judyth Piazza chats with Jerry Colbert, National Memorial Day Concert (2008)

By Judyth Piazza CEO (Editor)

This Memorial Day weekend, PBS will unite our nation in honor of all of America`s men and women in uniform for their service and sacrifice with the annual presentation of the top-rated National Memorial Day Concert live from the U.S. Capitol. 

The concert will be led for the third year by co-hosts Gary Sinise ( CSI NY ") and Tony Award-winner Joe Mantegna ( Criminal Minds "), two acclaimed actors who have dedicated themselves to veterans` causes and supporting our troops in active service.  This year`s event will pay special tribute to the veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam and the sacred war memorials built in their honor in Washington, D.C.  Actor and highly decorated World War II veteran Charles Durning, a long-time participant in the National Memorial Day Concert, will also be recognized for his bravery and sacrifice as part of the greatest generation " who stepped forward in a time of need.  And, the valor of our newest veterans will be honored as we examine the bonds that buddies form on the battlefields of Iraq.

The television event will feature a mix of dramatic readings, documentary footage and live musical performances, along with an all-star line-up of dignitaries, actors and musical artists including music legend Gladys Knight, classical crossover soprano and star of the stage Sarah Brightman, Best Actress Tony Award-winner Idina Menzel (Wicked , Rent ), actor and comedian Denis Leary (Rescue Me ), country music star Rodney Atkins, actor and singer John Schneider, actress Gail O`Grady, film and television actress Caitlin Wachs, along with General Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret.) and Charles Durning, the quintessential character actor and recipient of the 2007 Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award (more talent to be announced.)  The National Symphony Orchestra will be performing under the direction of top pops conductor Erich Kunzel

The nation`s premier memorial event is broadcast live on Sunday, May 25 at 8 p.m. from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. before an on-site audience of hundreds of thousands and is viewed by millions more at home.  It can also be seen overseas by U.S. military personnel in more than 175 countries and aboard more than 200 U.S. Navy ships at sea on American Forces Radio and Television Network. 

Jerry Colbert

In 1981, Executive Producer Jerry Colbert presented the first PBS Fourth of July concert with the National Symphony Orchestra and guest artists performing live from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol.  In 1990, he introduced the National Memorial Day Concert.  Since then, both holiday specials have become among the highest-rated performance programs on PBS.  In addition to his annual work on these concerts, Colbert has produced Mr. Justice Brennan, Sister Adrian, the Mother Teresa of Scranton, The Regulators: Our Invisible Government and H.R. 6161: An Act of Congress