Thousands mass in Washington to honour United States veterans

US Medal of Honor recipient Master Sergeant Leroy A. Petry is acknowledged during The Concert for Valor on the National Mall on Veterans' Day in Washington. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
US Medal of Honor recipient Master Sergeant Leroy A. Petry is acknowledged during The Concert for Valor on the National Mall on Veterans' Day in Washington. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Musicians Bruce Springsteen (L), Dave Grohl and Zac Brown (R) perform during The Concert for Valor on the National Mall on Veterans' Day in Washington. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Musicians Bruce Springsteen (L), Dave Grohl and Zac Brown (R) perform during The Concert for Valor on the National Mall on Veterans' Day in Washington. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
 A young girl poses with a US Navy cap as someone photographs her during the Concert for Valor on the National Mall on Veterans' Day in Washington. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
 A young girl poses with a US Navy cap as someone photographs her during the Concert for Valor on the National Mall on Veterans' Day in Washington. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Singer Jennifer Hudson performs the US National Anthem during The Concert for Valor on the National Mall on Veterans' Day in Washington November 11. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Singer Jennifer Hudson performs the US National Anthem during The Concert for Valor on the National Mall on Veterans' Day in Washington November 11. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Singer Carrie Underwood and The Singing Sergeants of the US Air Force perform during The Concert for Valor on the National Mall on Veterans' Day in Washington. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Singer Carrie Underwood and The Singing Sergeants of the US Air Force perform during The Concert for Valor on the National Mall on Veterans' Day in Washington. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Metallica performs with US military personnel and veterans during the Concert for Valor on the National Mall on Veterans' Day in Washington on Nov 11, - - PHOTO: REUTERS
Metallica performs with US military personnel and veterans during the Concert for Valor on the National Mall on Veterans' Day in Washington on Nov 11, - - PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Hundreds of thousands of people, many waving the Stars and Stripes, packed central Washington for a free concert on 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 Valour and an atmosphere of patriotic fervour filled the November evening sky, with the Capitol - covered in scaffolding for repairs - looking on in the background.

Some people wore civilian clothes, others were in full uniform, as the nation came together to recognize 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.

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.

Movie stars Meryl Streep and Jack Black appeared on stage, 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."