The Norfolk NATO Festival takes place annually in Norfolk, Virginia, in conjunction with the Parade of Nations and the International Village, at which the 29 NATO member nations present themselves.
Every year, the soldiers of the German delegation and their families organize a theme float and a stand for the event, presenting the German Armed Forces and the Federal Republic of Germany.
A Salute to Women in the Military
The German Delegation Norfolk used this year’s motto of the festival Courage und Commitment – A Salute to Women in the Military to inform visitors about female soldiers in the German Armed Forces. The uniforms of the various services were displayed on the float.
In Germany, the first women enlisted in the military in 1975. But it was not possible to serve in combat troops until 2001.
Today, nearly 22,000 women are serving their country in national, European, or NATO military missions.
A special greeting also went out to the thousands of women who have dedicated their lives to military families.
Thousands of Visitors Join in the Celebration
Immediately following the Parade of Nations, the NATO International Village opened its doors. Here, at the German stand, numerous visitors gathered information about the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Armed Forces again this year.
There were also cultural presentations, international art, and cuisine, while children enjoyed activities, music, and giveaways from the various nations.
More than 40,000 visitors, families, and veterans celebrated with Germany and the other 28 NATO member nations.
“Bravo Zulu” German Delegation Norfolk
At the end of the day, all the participants were satisfied and concluded that the Norfolk NATO Fest 2019 was a complete success. “We were able to sense from the reactions of the visitors that we had presented our country in a positive, joyous, and appropriate fashion and strengthened our good reputation,” Colonel Hubert Katz, head of the German delegation, said.
Afterwards, Colonel Katz thanked the German service members and their families for their outstanding dedication. “You have all helped make a refreshingly positive impression on our guests and visitors.”
History of the Norfolk NATO Festival
Fred Heutte, the Superintendent of Parks and Forestry in Norfolk, came up with the idea of holding an annual festival to celebrate the floral splendor of the city’s parks. In 1951, the Women’s Club and an array of garden clubs embraced the idea and organized the first Crape Myrtle Festival in August that year. In 1952, the festival was moved to the springtime and renamed the Azalea Festival.
In 1953, NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) established its only strategic command in North America, the Allied Command Atlantic in Norfolk, Virginia. One year after the establishment of the command, Norfolk’s local representatives renamed the festival the International Azalea Festival.
In 2002, the NATO military command structure was reorganized, and the Allied Command Atlantic became the Allied Command Transformation (ACT). It was officially established on June 19, 2003.
The festival then became the Norfolk NATO Festival in 2009. The festival’s motto today is to honor the international influence of NATO in Norfolk.
The Norfolk NATO Festival is the only event in the world dedicated to NATO and its 29 member nations.