During the ceremony, the Fifes and Drum Corps of Yorktown performed and the U.S. Fleet Forces band played the United States national anthem, NATO hymn and patriotic music to commemorate the historic event.
French Air Force Gen. Denis Mercier, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, provided remarks spotlighting America’s independence and the importance of NATO’s headquarters in North America.
“For the men and women of Allied Command Transformation, having the opportunity to spend the Fourth of July with our American colleagues and friends is always a cherished moment because of the enduring hospitality we all receive in Norfolk and in the Hampton Roads region, NATO’s home in America,” said Mercier.
“Every year, new staff members cross the Atlantic during the summer rotation, settle in the neighbourhoods and local communities, and every year, we are reminded of the powerful transatlantic bond linking our nations together across the ocean,” said Mercier.
U.S. Navy Adm. Christopher Grady, U.S. Fleet Forces commander, attended the ceremony and highlighted the importance of celebrating America’s Independence Day alongside Allies at Allied Command Transformation.
"The United States Navy is proud to host the only North American NATO command in its 15th year of excellence," said Grady. "The Navy looks ahead to being a partner in the future Joint Forces Command, as NATO continues to adapt to dynamic security challenges."
“I wish [Americans] a very happy Independence Day, in remembrance of the change it brought to the old world, and of the inspiration it gave to other people aspiring to democracy and liberty,” said Mercier. “Long live our Alliance, and God bless the United States of America.”
As one of NATO’s two strategic commands, Allied Command Transformation has been located in the United States since its inception in 2003. The city of Norfolk, and the region as a whole, serve as exceptional hosts to military and civilian personnel from 34 allied and partner nations. As the warfare development command for NATO, Allied Command Transformation’s mission is to contribute to preserving the peace, security and territorial integrity of Alliance member states by leading the transformation efforts of military structures, forces, capabilities and doctrines.