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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Virginia International Tattoo Celebrates 80 Years of Freedom

NORFOLK — The Virginia International Tattoo returns this weekend for its 27th year at the Scope Arena, with music, dance, drill teams, and bands from around the world all uniting for a peaceful celebration.

The show is a ceremonial performance of military music by different massed bands. Each tattoo is influenced by the culture of the country it represents. There are nods to Hollywood movies, television shows, and patriotic classics.

The celebration, which takes place annually in Virginia, is one of many around the world. Other world-famous tattoos include the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in Scotland, the Basel Tattoo in Switzerland, and the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo in Canada. The Virginia International Tattoo is the largest in the United States.

Each year, the Virginia International Tattoo selects a theme, and for 2024, “Celebration of Freedom” will mark the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landing and the 75th anniversary of the founding of NATO.

Performers in the festival include bands and drill teams from the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Marine Corps. Switzerland’s Top Secret Drum Corps, the Netherlands Royal Marine Band, the Virginia Military Tattoo Highland Dance Company, and the Massed Pipes and Drums from four nations will also make appearances.

Stacie Crowther, Senior Drum Major for the Massed Bands, is performing in her fourth tattoo. She explains the tattoo for first-timers.

“If you could take a whole bunch of music, dancing, fabulous organizations and put them all together in one performance, this is it. It really is the music and the might. It truly is international because all of the countries that come from all over and the experiences that we get here are not just performing with the other countries, but its also the lasting friendships that we make while we are hanging out together,” Crowther shared.

Crowther joined the U.S. Marine Corps at the age of 17 as an enlisted flute player. She served in Iraq as a machine gun turret operator in two tours. In 2017, she was selected as the first female assistant drum major for the President’s Own Marine Band, where she led the group on the world stage at the White House.

Crowther is the first and only woman to be the senior drum major at any tattoo in the world.

“While it is very special to be the first female, I love that young girls can look to me in a leadership position and I think that’s fantastic, but I just want to be as good or better than the people whose shoes I’m filling. It is an honor but I’m still just trying to do the best job I can do, regardless of gender,” Crowther said.

Local performers include the Granby High School Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC), Hampton Roads Police Color Guards, Norfolk Fire-Rescue Honor Guard, Old Dominion University Concert Choir, Tidewater Pipes and Drums, Virginia Children’s Chorus, and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra Chorus.

“This tattoo will remind us that as Americans, we have helped write some of the greatest chapters in the story of human freedom. With stirring music, historic photos and video, tributes from U.S. military bands and appearances by special guests, we will remember and celebrate the men and women who have safeguarded freedom not only for the United States, but for the world,” a press release said.

The 120-minute show brings military bands from all over the world to Norfolk.

Performances of the Military Tattoo continue on April 20 at 7:30 p.m. and April 21 at 2:30 p.m.

For more information and to buy tickets for the show, visit vafest.org/tattoo.

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