NORFOLK, Va. – On April 25, NATO’s Allied Command Transformation, Norfolk NATO Festival Committee, Virginia Arts Festival and the City of Norfolk launched the annual Norfolk NATO Festival with a vibrant and colourful Flag Raising Ceremony in Downtown Norfolk.
The festival takes place during NATO’s 70th anniversary, which marks the Alliance’s successful commitment to globally protecting freedom, democracy and the rule of law, while also promoting international peace. This year’s festival theme is “A Salute to the Women of NATO,” highlighting the valuable role and contribution of women to the Alliance.
NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (SACT) General André Lanata, hosted the ceremony alongside Kenneth Cooper Alexander, Mayor of the City of Norfolk. Other special guests included Congresswoman Elaine Luria, U.S. Air Force General (retired) Lori Robinson and Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis, commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet.
During the ceremony, NATO’s 29 Member Nations presented their national flag, while the United States Fleet Forces Band performed a cultural sampling of music, a demonstration of the diversity and strength of the NATO Alliance. A U.S. Helicopter Squadron also performed a flyover at the beginning of the program.
General Lanata thanked all Member Nations for their contributions to peace and security achieved through unity and common values. He further extended a special appreciation to the women of NATO.
“[The theme] ‘A Salute to the Women of NATO’ symbolizes our great appreciation to the role and contribution of women, both in our armed forces and in our military families,” said General Lanata. “This appreciation should resonate with everyone.”
The Flag Raising Ceremony marked the beginning of a number of events for visitors organized by Allied Command Transformation and the Norfolk NATO Festival Committee.
As NATO’s only strategic command in North America, the festival recognizes and celebrates Allied Command Transformation’s contributions, achievements and influence in the Hampton Roads region, the United States and the world. The festival brings together NATO and the Hampton Roads region in this annual tradition to provide the opportunity for the local community and visitors to learn about the Alliance and Allied Command Transformation, NATO’s home in North America.
“NATO Night” at the Virginia International Tattoo in the Scope Arena immediately followed the Flag Raising Ceremony. The spectacular performance celebrated the NATO Alliance and featured an international cast of military bands, drill teams, dancers and choirs from NATO nations, partner nations and local community groups.
The Norfolk NATO Festival continues on April 27 with the Parade of Nations featuring handcrafted floats representative of each of the NATO Member Nations, followed by the International Village which showcases the diversity and friendships of NATO’s international community through food, performances and art.
Photo Gallery - Flag Raising Ceremony
Photo Gallery - Virginia International Tattoo