11/06/2014 08:15 EST | Updated 01/06/2015 05:59 EST

Willie Nelson, Common, Mary J. Blige help White House salute US troops, veterans, families

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama says the men and women who voluntarily go into harm's way to keep the country safe and protect its freedoms deserve the respect and admiration of a grateful nation.

Obama commented Thursday night as he opened a musical tribute to "American patriots" — service members, veterans and their families.

Obama says that no matter what type of music Americans listen to, they are united in their respect and admiration for their nation's men and women in uniform.

The program is the latest installment of the PBS series "In Performance at the White House" and is being taped inside a large tent on the South Lawn of the White House.

It is scheduled to be broadcast on PBS stations nationwide.