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Award-winning actress S. Epatha Merkerson, 70, who played Lt. Anita Van Buren on Law & Order for nearly two decades, is joining other actors, singers and musicians to pay tribute to U.S. service members at PBS’s May 28 National Memorial Day Concert. The event honors fallen military service members and their loved ones, including Gold Star Families who have lost family members serving during times of conflict.
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At the National Memorial Day Concert, you’ll be sharing the story of three generations of one Gold Star Family. How do you do that justice?
To just be as honest with the story as it is written — to honor the young men and women who do something I don’t think I could. I look at my brother and some of my cousins. They served with honor, and it’s something that I have great admiration for. My oldest brother is a veteran of the Vietnam era, and one is still in the service.
You’ve participated in this event before [in 2016]. What are you looking forward to?
It’s always lovely to see Gary [Sinise, the event cohost]. There’s sadness connected to it, but it’s really a joyous occasion to be able to uplift the Gold Star Families and to let them hear their words. I think that’s really important. And just the pomp of it — the music and the bands. It’s an amazing event. I can remember over the years watching it. So to be a part of it is really cool.
Do you have a special memory from the last time you came to D.C. to participate in the concert?