WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Marine First Lt. Nathan Krissoff was only 25 years old when he was killed in Iraq in December 2006.
Three years later, Bill Krissoff wanted to honor his son's memory with the same courage that Nathan Krissoff displayed. The orthopedic surgeon closed up his successful practice in California and served as a combat surgeon both in Iraq and Afghanistan at the age of 61.
Naval Cmdr. Krissoff and Marine First Lt. Krissoff were just two of the hundreds of thousands veterans who were honored Tuesday night at the first-ever Concert for Valor, held on the National Mall. A short film presentation highlighted the Krissoffs during the event.
The free three-hour concert was a mix of the glitz of Hollywood and the patriotism of the nation's capital. It attracted nearly 800,000 attendees, according to the Associated Press, and was broadcast live on HBO. The Washington Post reported that about 12,000 tickets were set aside specifically for members of the military.
The concert featured Bruce Springsteen, Jennifer Hudson, Eminem and Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters, among other stars. Celebrities including Meryl Streep, John Oliver and Bryan Cranston helped host the event, which was organized by Chase, HBO and Starbucks.
People traveled from all over the country for the event, with some lining up more than 12 hours in advance of the 7 p.m. show to beat expected crowds.
“I was lucky enough to get some tickets at the last second. It made my 10-hour wait worth every second,” said Christina Delgado, 31, a U.S. Coast Guard veteran currently living in Washington, D.C. “All the performers were amazing, and the hosts made efforts to talk to the crowd during rehearsals.”
Delgado said she arrived at the National Mall at 9:15 a.m. on Tuesday to grab a spot near the stage before the concert.
“I think this is a great start," Jennifer Hudson said at a press conference about the event. "The more awareness that is built, the more Congress can do, the more people can do, the more we can all do. That’s why it’s awesome to be here tonight."
Also at the press conference, HBO CEO Richard Pleper said that he'd like the Concert for Valor to become an annual event.
"We looked at each other and said, 'Maybe we ought to do this again,'" Pleper said.
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz told The Huffington Post that the concert ties into an initiative the company announced last year to hire 10,000 veterans over the span of five years. He said Starbucks has already hired 1,000 veterans, and would like to see other companies launch similar programs.
"What every small business, large business and the CEO of the country must do is to help these veterans transition into society and hire them," he said. "And the reason is: It is good business, not charity."
Oliver, who recently launched his own current affairs show on HBO and has been lampooning the political process, said at the press conference that the concert was more personal for him since his wife is a veteran.
"I'm not a policy adviser for the president, but I am married to a veteran, and I am aware of some of the frustrations that veterans have to endure," he said.
Jessie J, who performed her song "Bang Bang" at the concert, said at the press conference that she drew on the energy of the crowd and was excited to participate in the event.
"I could see how much it meant to them. And I always try to take that energy from them and put it into my performance," she said. "[T]o see the audience react like that and celebrate a day like today -- I’m super honored to be here today."