WASHINGTON (AFP) – Hundreds of thousands of people, many waving the Stars and Stripes, packed central Washington for a free concert Tuesday starring Bruce Springsteen, Rihanna and Eminem to honour America’s veterans.
The famed National Mall area in the heart of the US capital was packed for the “The Concert for Valor” and an atmosphere of patriotic fervour filled the November evening sky, with the Capitol – covered in scaffolding for repairs – looming in the background.
Some people wore civilian clothes, others were in full uniform, as the nation came together to recognise US service personnel and their families on Veterans Day.
A bevy of stars lit up the first-of-a-kind three-hour spectacular, which was beamed across the United States live on television.
After Rihanna’s turn, Eminem rocked the party with “Guts Over Fear”.
“Thank you for your sacrifice,” the Grammy-winning rapper told service members in the massive crowd some estimates put at as high as 800,000.
Other household favourites performing included The Black Keys, country singer Carrie Underwood, Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl, heavy metal group Metallica and country/folk artists Zac Brown Band.
Stars such as Meryl Streep, Bryan Cranston and Jack Black appeared onstage, while Reese Witherspoon, Will Smith and Steven Spielberg all made video tributes.
Singer-actress Jennifer Hudson began the festivities with a stirring rendition of the US national anthem, followed by a recorded message from President Barack Obama that told the immense crowd: “Let’s all find ways… to serve these heroes as well as they’ve served us.