Music strengthens NATO bonds during International Tattoo

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Taryn Onyon
  • Air Combat Command Public Affairs

In the heart of coastal Norfolk, Virginia, a city rich in military history and patriotism, the Virginia International Tattoo stands as a symbol of honor and celebration. Located between the world's largest Naval base and NATO's sole North American headquarters, this event, which took place April 19-21, embodied the spirit of American pride and global camaraderie.

Originating in 1809 as a signal for Dutch innkeepers to close their taps and soldiers to return to barracks, the tradition has evolved into the grand spectacle known today as "Tattoo." From its simple beginnings to its present-day evolution as a symbol of unity and respect, this tradition has continued to resonate with audiences worldwide.

The Tattoo featured musical performances by over 800 performers from seven countries. It also included historic photos and heartfelt tributes from U.S. military bands. Together, they honored the men and women who have fought for freedom, not just in America, but around the world.

Alongside the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings and 75th anniversary of NATO's founding, the 2024 Tattoo’s theme— “A Celebration of Freedom”—served as a reminder of America's role as a global defender of freedom and democracy. 

Air Combat Command’s Heritage of America Concert Band out of Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, contributed to the Tattoo's lineup. Made up of 45 talented Airmen, the Concert Band captivated the audience with their performance, weaving the Air Force story into their music. During the Tattoo, they delivered three songs that complemented the event's theme.

“I designed our show theme, ‘Freedom through the Ages,’ to provide both a musical and historical journey of America's pursuit of freedom,” said Staff Sgt. Nick Del Villano, Heritage of America Band trumpeter and project officer. “Starting with the establishment of independence in 1776, emphasized by the Declaration of Independence principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the theme underscored our nation's ongoing quest for liberty.”

This event served as both a showcase of military precision and artistry, and a tribute to the lasting values of freedom and unity. 

“Music serves as the international language, fostering strong alliances and partnerships worldwide, “said Lt. Gen. Michael Koscheski, deputy commander of ACC. “Amidst the challenges and conflicts of today's world, our ability to cultivate relationships with allies distinguishes us from adversaries. 

“Events like the international tattoo provide a platform to strengthen these bonds,” Kocheski said. “Witnessing musicians from different countries come together, practice and perform at such a high level showcases their professionalism and talent and is truly awe-inspiring.”