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For Katie Holmes, it's 'a real gift' to hail troops

USA Today
By Olivia Barker

She just took in the "American Idol" finale, and this weekend, Katie Holmes will be on hand for an equally all-American event.

Holmes is among a clutch of stars performing in Sunday's 20th anniversary "National Memorial Day Concert" broadcast from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol on PBS (8 p.m. ET, check local listings). She plays the sister of an Iraq war veteran, Jose Pequeno, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in combat. Pequeno, his sister, Elizabeth, and his mother, Nellie Bagley, will be in the audience. Gary Sinise and Joe Mantegna co-host.

"It's important to tell these stories and honor the sacrifice and service of these men and women and their families," says Holmes, who has never worked with the armed forces community before. "It's a real gift to be able to portray an American of such strength. I'm excited. I want to do justice to her story."

She'll get help re-enacting a veteran's family from an acting veteran, Dianne Wiest, who tapped her to participate in the concert and with whom she co-starred in the Broadway production of "All My Sons." Though they have spoken, the two haven't seen each other since the show closed in January.