EDINBURGH, Scotland – U.S. Navy Sea Cadet Corps members attended a show rehearsal Aug. 1 for the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo as part of an international exchange program.
The Edinburgh tattoo brings together international military and civilian musicians and performers for a show outside Edinburgh castle. The Sea Cadets are touring the region with sea cadets from other countries.
“About 200 people had applied for the exchange program, and we were among those selected,” said Cadet Chief Petty Officer Travis Klein, attached to the America division from Richmond, Va. “After spending our first few days touring London and England, we’re concluding our visit through a tour of Scotland.”
The executive officer for the U.S. members, Cadet Chief Warrant Officer Jennifer Weggen, said the visit to the rehearsal was a surprise for the cadets and said it was a powerful opportunity to show the multinational cadets how the many nations are coming together and intermingling for the performance.
“It’s almost what we’ve been trying to do on our trip,” Weggen said. “Hopefully these partnerships we’re building will change the way we approach a future scenario. I think know more about each other’s culture and to learn to appreciate our differences, we will be able to work together more effectively.”
Klein said the military tattoo provides for a neutral partnership building setting and uses the common language of music to bring people together.
“I’ve always believed music transcends all boundaries and borders,” Klein said. “Events such as the Olympics and the tattoo break down those barriers and help us to set aside our differences and work together. I think when people work together and the word of that partnership spreads, that’s how we break down barriers.”
Klein said by hosting events such as the tattoos and sea cadet international exchanges societies can help create enduring partnerships.
“With the many international sea cadets here getting to know each other, it’s helping to bring us together as one,” Klein said. “It’s refreshing to see the partnerships America has around the world.”
Weggen said on the ride up to Scotland she too noticed the unifying effect music can have on cultures.
“We all recognize the same kind of songs and watching these kids on the bus as we travelled here I could see they knew the same songs,” Weggen said. “Whether they were from Singapore, Ghana, the United States or Australia, the cadets recognized the same music and danced almost the same way. It was amazing to see this same camaraderie here at the tattoo rehearsal.”
Klein said it will be important in the future to continue welcoming other countries for visits and exchanging service members across the world.
“The only way we can really truly understand someone is to visit them and experience their culture first hand,” Klein said. “If we’re not doing that, then we’re not creating those allies, fostering those partners or creating a better future.”
The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is considered one of the most popular and oldest military tattoos in Europe, with its highlight being a Massed Military Band combining several military bands from around the globe into one ensemble. This is the first year since the tattoo’s inception in 1950 that a U.S. Navy band is participating.