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The National Memorial Day Concert will air live in HD on PBS from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol on Sunday, May 27, from 8 to 9:30 p.m. ET before an audience of hundreds of thousands, millions more at home, as well as to our troops serving around the world on the American Forces Network.

The program is co-hosted for the seventh year by Tony Award-winner Joe Mantegna of “Criminal Minds” and Emmy Award-winner Gary Sinise “CSI: New York” — two acclaimed actors who have dedicated themselves to veterans’ causes and supporting our troops in active service.

They will be joined by an all-star line-up including: distinguished American leader Colin L. Powell; the multiplatinum rock band Daughtry; nine-time Grammy award-winner, singer and songwriter Natalie Cole; country music superstar Trace Adkins; acclaimed film and television actress Selma Blair; Emmy, Oscar and Tony award-winning actress Ellen Burstyn; Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning actor and Vietnam veteran Dennis Franz; and world renowned tenor Russell Watson in performance with the National Symphony Orchestra under the direction of top pops conductor Jack Everly.

Consistently one of the highest-rated programs on PBS over the past decade, the National Memorial Day Concert became the No. 3 top-rated program in prime time on PBS during the 2010-2011 season with a 3.6 Nielsen rating, reaching more than 8 million viewers.

Featured stories in the National Memorial Day Concert will include:

* A heartfelt welcome home to our troops who have been serving in Iraq and Afghanistan;
* The poignant story of a young widow who lost her husband in Afghanistan;
* A segment profiling the heroic and brave efforts of veterans from all wars; and
* A closer look at the plight of homeless American veterans.

“Each year on the eve of Memorial Day, we gather at the U.S. Capitol to share the real stories of fallen and wounded heroes, their families and their combat buddies as a way to remember, to grieve and begin to heal,” Mr. Mantegna said. “Every one of your stories of remembrance is important to us. We are honored to be able to share these moving tributes from our loyal viewers as we remember the sacrifices made by so many to preserve our freedoms.”

The U.S Joint Chiefs of Staff will also participate in the event along with the U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, the U.S. Army Chorus, the Soldiers Chorus of the U.S. Army Field Band, the U.S. Navy Sea Chanters, the U.S. Air Force Singing Sergeants, the Armed Forces Color Guard and Service Color Teams provided by the Military District of Washington, D.C.

Send letters to Sgt. Shaft, c/o John Fales, P.O. Box 65900, Washington, D.C. 20035-5900; fax 301/622-3330, call 202/257-5446 or email sgtshaft@bavf.org.