NORFOLK, Va. – The Hampton Roads community honoured its long standing connection with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization nations by celebrating the annual week-long Norfolk NATO Festival from April 25th to April 30th. The festival brings together NATO nations and the Hampton Roads region in this annual tradition to provide the local community and visitors the opportunity to learn about the Alliance and the two commands that call Norfolk home.
NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, General Philippe Lavigne kicked off the festivities Thursday evening at the annual Flag Raising Ceremony alongside Kenneth Cooper Alexander, Mayor of the City of Norfolk, and NATO Joint Force Command Norfolk Commander Vice Adm. Daniel Dwyer. During the ceremony, NATO’s 30 Member Nations presented their national flags, while the United States Fleet Forces Band performed a cultural sampling of music, a demonstration of the diversity and strength of the NATO Alliance.
Saturday, the Parade of Nations and International Village returned after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19.
“These series of events only strengthen the ties between the city of Norfolk and members of NATO’s 30 Allied nations living here and working at NATO Allied Command Transformation and NATO Joint Force Command,” said General Lavigne. “The fruitful cooperation and closeness, between the city of Norfolk and NATO, is both a symbol and an instrument of the transatlantic bond.”
As NATO’s only two commands in North America, the festival recognizes Allied Command Transformation and Joint Force Command Norfolk’s contributions, achievements and influence in the Hampton Roads region, the United States and the globe.
“Since the establishment of NATO’s presence in Norfolk in 1952, our residents and citizens throughout the region have been willing and excited, to do their part to aid the success of the Alliance,” said Mayor Alexander. “This celebration is the longest continuously running festival in Hampton Roads. And, the only one of its kind in the United States that honors the NATO alliance and its member nations. We cannot be more proud of that honor and distinction.”
NATO is the world’s oldest and most successful political-military Alliance, dating back to 1949. NATO promotes democratic values and enables its 30 member nations to consult and cooperate on defence and security-related issues to solve problems, build trust and, in the long run, prevent conflict. NATO is also committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes. If diplomatic efforts fail, it has the military power to undertake crisis-management operations.