Colin Powell, Joe Mantegna, Sinise, Trace Adkins: D.C.

National Memorial Day Concert
Sergeant Major Brent Jurgersen and General Ray Odierno, the chief of staff of the U.S. Army. Photographer: Stephanie Green/Bloomberg

Virginia Democrat Congressman Jim Moran, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and General Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, evacuated the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol Sunday night along with thousands of flag-waving guests when a bad weather front forced the National Memorial Day Concert to end early.

Production company Capital Concerts Inc. was able to cobble together a show for PBS, which broadcasts the event live nationwide, using the 30 minutes of performances that took place, recorded material from the dress rehearsal and footage from last year.

Actor Joe Mantegna of the CBS drama “Criminal Minds” co-hosted the show with Gary Sinise, an Oscar nominee for his portrayal of Vietnam War amputee Lieutenant Dan in “Forrest Gump.”

Mantegna brought along his uncle Willie Novelli, 89, a World War II veteran. The actor explained during the rehearsal that all of his uncles served in uniform.

“I was lucky they all came back,” he said.

Odierno talked to the show’s executive producer, Jerry Colbert, and Army Sergeant Major Brent Jurgersen, who lost his leg in Iraq. Jurgersen was with his Labrador retriever, Houston, who is part of the Patriot Paws Service Dogs program.

“American Idol’s” Jessica Sanchez opened with the National Anthem.

Natalie Cole, who was singing “Walkin’ My Baby Back Home” when the show was stopped, said she has visited with troops in Afghanistan and at Walter Reed Medical Center.

Her father, Nat King Cole, wanted to serve in the military, she said, but was rejected for being flat-footed.

Killed in Combat

Before the show’s halt, actress Selma Blair read a letter written by Brigette Cain to her late husband, Army Private First Class Norman Cain III, who was killed in combat in Afghanistan at age 22.

Blair, who sobbed during her reading, said that Cain’s tragedy affected her “so much harder” because she herself has a baby boy.

Cain attended the concert with her children and met Blair and country singer Trace Adkins, who performed his patriotic anthem “Til the Last Shot’s Fired.”

(Stephanie Green is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)

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