For the 30th National Memorial Day Concert, actor Sam Elliott had the honor of paying tribute to Sgt. Ray Lambert. The 2019 concert aired on Sunday on PBS.
For the annual National Memorial Day concert, Sam Elliott was tasked by the concert's host, Joe Mantegna, with honoring D-Day survivor and American hero, WWII veteran Sgt. Ray Lambert. Elliott narrated Lambert’s heartbreaking account of that day.
"It's such an honor to tell your story.”
As the actor spoke, images of the war played on a large screen. Showing soldiers fighting, shooting, and being carried off to safety among others.
Elliott painted the picture of Lambert’s experience on the day solemnly reading:
"It was total confusion. Shells exploding, boats blowing up, people yelling because they couldn't hear anything, machine gun bullets hitting the water all around you, the roar of the boats coming in. It's like you're all alone in the world of a million people because you're concentrating on what you have to do."
The actor continued:
"I just kept going. I was thinking of only one thing -- getting to the men who needed me. You did the job you were trained to do. If you didn't, you died."
Elliott ended the narration by reading Lambert's words about the men who lost their lives. According to the reading, the sergeant still thought about them every day.
The actor said:
"People who have never been in a war should understand what soldiers give up. The guys we left on Omaha Beach never had a chance to live the lives they dreamed of. A day hasn't gone by when I haven't prayed for the men we lost and their families.”
Sharing Lambert’s thoughts the actor added:
“I still wake up at night sometimes thinking about the guys. Every man that walked in to those machine guns and that artillery fire on Omaha Beach that day -- every man -- was a hero. What kind of person would I be if I didn't tell their stories?"
When Elliott finished the recital, those who were in attendance clapped; clearly touched by the sacrifice made by Lambert and other soldiers. The actor also had the honor of shaking Lambert's hand afterward.
He confessed to him: "It's such an honor to tell your story.” The 30th National Memorial Day Concert was hosted by Mary McCormack and Mantegna.
Elliott also narrated the “Honor Guard,” a docuseries about the Army's 3rd Infantry Regiment.
The National Memorial Day Concert is a free annual concert which occurs on the west lawn of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. The celebration has been held since 1989 and happens on the last Sunday of May.
PBS and NPR usually broadcast it live and the US military personnel, who are overseas, can also tune in.
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