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Around The Fleet

Concert for Valor

A musical salute in our nation's capital

Sailors and military veterans were among the swarm of music fans who packed the National Mall in Washington, D.C., Tuesday for a free Veterans Day concert, bouncing to Rihanna, head-banging to Metallica and cheering anthems from Bruce Springsteen, Dave Grohl and other artists.

The first-of-its-kind Concert for Valor, staged by HBO, Starbucks and Chase Corp., was intended to raise awareness of issues affecting veterans. Hundreds of thousands of people attended making it one of the biggest events of the year on the Mall.

Seaman Kevin Sanders, a member of the U.S. Navy color guard, said he was in awe of the appreciation from all who participated.

"Being a Sailor, and being a service member, I was really taken aback by the amount of support we've received," said Sanders. "It's a wonderful feeling."
While tickets were free, organizers were hoping to direct fans to ways they can volunteer or donate money to causes helping war veterans. Some in the audience said the gesture had symbolic importance.

"This is the first time since I've been back that I've felt honored to be back home, and I'm 65 years old," said Bobby Monk, a disabled Vietnam veteran from D.C.

Between the performances, extraordinary veterans were honored in video tributes hosted by Steven Spielberg, Reese Witherspoon and Oprah Winfrey. Some of the subjects appeared onstage, including Leroy Petry, a Medal of Honor recipient who lost his right hand while serving in Iraq. Petry helped inspire Starbucks president Howard Schultz to write a book about veterans and pledge to hire at least 10,000 former service members.

Schultz said he hoped the concert would help more Americans recognize the importance of welcoming post-9/11 veterans back to civilian life.

The concert was televised live by HBO, which made its signal available to non-subscribers during the concert. Online streaming was also available.

"Veterans Day comes once a year. Unfortunately, at times, it's turned into an annual weekend sale," said Schultz. "That's not what it's about."

For information about resources for veterans visit http://www.va.gov/.