Concert to pay tribute to Powell

<p>Courtesy of Capitol</p> <p>The National Memorial Day Concert will air Sunday on PBS.</p>

A sizable portion of this year's National Memorial Day Concert will honor someone missing from the event for the first time in many years.

Gen. Colin Powell typically participated in the program, and his passing last October left returning hosts Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise without a professional colleague and a personal friend. They'll lead a tribute to him during the concert's annual PBS telecast Sunday – with the show set to return to its traditional outdoor setting of the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., after two years of being staged virtually.

“He's been a fixture of the show with me,” Mantegna says of Powell. “When I got my star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, I had (playwright) David Mamet speak on my behalf, and the other person I asked to speak for me was Gen. Powell. It turned out he couldn't do it because he was going to be in Iraq to mark the 10th anniversary of the war, but he wrote me this beautiful letter that I have framed over my desk.”

Sinise also had ties to Powell through his nonprofit Gary Sinise Foundation. “I'm glad that we're taking the time to feature him and his contributions to the concerts over the years,” the actor says.

Also slated to appear on this year's special are actors Jean Smart, Mary McCormack, Dennis Haysbert and Gil Birmingham; Broadway's Lea Salonga, Norm Lewis and Brian Stokes Mitchell; singer Rhiannon Giddens; country music's Craig Morgan; “American Idol” alum Pia Toscano; the National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Jack Everly; and the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Armed Forces Color Guard and Service Color Teams.