Joe Mantegna, Gary Sinise Talk National Memorial Day Concert 2021 with Kyle McMahon on Pop Culture Weekly
The National Memorial Day Concert is upon us once again as the country remembers our fallen men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our country. The annual PBS special is one of the highest rated affairs on PBS each Memorial Day weekend, garnering over 10 million viewers. Once again, Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise will host the beautiful tribute to our nations heroes.
While typically 200,000 people will gather around the West Lawn of the US Capitol to watch the star studded event, the coronavirus has altered those plans for the 2nd year in a row. Co-host Joe Mantegna tells me in this weeks episode of Pop Culture Weekly, that while last year was a bit of a scramble to put together a virtual version of the event, they've now had a year to plan. "This time they've had that whole year to kind of think about it. And I think we were really able to put together something that is really special....Since we have to do it this way...I think we came up with a really good program that is really terrific." Talent includes Gladys Knight, Alan Jackson, Sara Bareilles, Mickey Guyton, The Four Tops, Vince Gill and more.
Mantegna tells me that he clears his schedule every year for the special because it's important to him. "I'm very blessed to do what I do and be very successful at it. This gives me a chance to acknowledge why I’m blessed to be able to do it. Because of sacrifices other people have made throughout our countries history."
Emmy Award winner Gary Sinise is now co-hosting for his 15th year. Sinise tells me how his life changed after September 11th, which will be honored in the special this year for the 20th anniversary. Sinise tells the entire story in his book, Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service, and how those events really called him to focus on service towards our military, veterans and those heroes we've lost.
Sinise told me that after performing on National Memorial Day Concert in 2015 with his band, he was ready to do it again. "Once I did it I was hooked. They asked me to not only play but to narrate some of the segments. The following year Joe (Mantegna) asked me to come back and co-host it with him. It's just a great forum, a great opportunity to say 'thank you' and to pay tribute. I do that all year round with the Gary Sinise Foundation and the other things that I'm doing, but this is a special moment every year where we can come together as a nation and salute our heroes."
Additionally, I talk with the VP of Brand Management at USAA about their annual Poppy Wall of Honor that usually stands in Washington DC on Memorial Day weekend, but will be virtual this year. You can see what Poppies represent to our veterans and how they help fund programs to assist veterans right here.