Tony-winning actor Joe Mantegna is preparing to host the National Memorial Day Concert for the eighteenth time and says taking part on the national salute to Americans who have given their lives for our country is “the most important thing” he does every year.
The National Memorial Day Concert will take place Sunday at 8 p.m. ET live from the U.S. Capitol. Mantegna first hosted in 2002 and says the experience becomes more meaningful for him each year.
“It’s really the most important thing I do. It’s my way of hopefully being able to educate this nation. People who watch the concert understand why I say Memorial Day is our most important holiday. It’s the holiday that allows us to have all the other holidays.
“When you think about it, the sacrifices that men and women have made since the formation of this country in the 1700’s to today is reason we’re able to live the life we live and we’re able to enjoy Memorial Day weekend, and also Labor Day Weekend, and also Presidents Day weekend, and also Fourth of July and all the other holidays,” said Mantegna.
Mantegna normally hosts the concert alongside fellow actor and well-known military advocate Gary Sinise. However, a family issue required Sinise to step aside this year. Actress Mary McCormack will take his place.
“She did the concert with us last year as an artist. After the concert, she came up to me and she said, ‘I’ll come back and I’ll serve coffee to the people. I’ll do wardrobe. I’ll do anything you ask me to do to be part of this again.’ She was so taken, as I was 18 years ago, by the whole 90-minute program and what it was about,” said Mantegna.
The concert will feature top military officials, musical artists and performers such as Sam Elliott and Dennis Haysbert dramatically telling stories about our nation’s heroes.
Listen to the full podcast to hear more about Mantegna’s passion for honoring our heroes and what to expect in this year’s concert. Mantegna strongly encourages everyone to enjoy their weekend but to watch the concert. He wants to see Memorial Day bring the nation together.
“It’s got nothing to do with politics. It’s just all about honoring the men and women who have made this sacrifice,” said Mantegna.