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USAFE Band’s participation in Ukraine’s 30th Independence Day highlights U.S. commitment

USAFE Band’s participation in Ukraine’s 30th Independence Day highlights U.S. commitment

A Ukrainian girl waves a national flag during the Independence Day parade at Kyiv, Ukraine, Aug. 24, 2021. Independence Day is the main state holiday in modern Ukraine, celebrated in commemoration of the Declaration of Independence in 1991. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Madeline Herzog)

USAFE Band’s participation in Ukraine’s 30th Independence Day highlights U.S. commitment

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Matthew Erickson, U.S. Air Forces in Europe Band drum major, watches military units march by during the Independence Day parade at Kyiv, Ukraine, Aug. 24, 2021. Erickson led the formation during the final parade, when the USAFE Band, the National Presidential Orchestra of Ukraine and the British Army Band Colchester performed as a cohesive unit. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Madeline Herzog)

USAFE Band’s participation in Ukraine’s 30th Independence Day highlights U.S. commitment

The U.S. Air Forces in Europe Band, the National Presidential Orchestra of Ukraine and the British Army Band Colchester perform together during rehearsal at Kyiv, Ukraine, Aug. 22, 2021. The USAFE Band was part of a multinational formation in conjunction with the NPO and the BABC in preparation for Ukraine’s Independence Day parade on Aug. 24, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Madeline Herzog)

KYIV, Ukraine --

The U.S. Air Forces in Europe Band focused on building relationships through music and advancing partnership priorities from Aug. 18-24 while participating in multiple events throughout Kyiv to celebrate Ukraine’s 30th Anniversary of Independence.

The main event for Ukraine’s independence celebration was the 30th Anniversary Parade in which the marching band performed as part of a 120-member multinational military band, consisting of the British Army Band Colchester (BABC) and the National Presidential Orchestra of Ukraine (NPO).

“It is a tremendous honor to be, along with our colleagues from the British Army Band Colchester, the first foreign military band to march in Ukraine’s Independence Day parade,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Cristina M. Moore Urrutia, U.S. Air Forces in Europe Band commander.

Each nation involved needed to learn and adjust to uniform marching movements and styles, while simultaneously adapting and working around the clear language barriers during their five rehearsal days. While leading rehearsals, Lieutenant Colonel Maksym Husak, NPO deputy commander and conductor, jokingly mentioned that bands performing together normally have 30 days of rehearsal in advance of a production, not five.

“I think it is really hard to bring together 120 players, but taking into account the professionalism of each individual and every musician, I think we are going to reach the perfect results we are looking for,” said Husak.

The power of music can help transcend language and cultural barriers while continuing to strengthen long-lasting friendships, just like it did between the NPO, the BABC and the USAFE Band, according to Lt. Col. Moore Urrutia.

“On this momentous occasion celebrating their 30th anniversary of independence, we have combined three military bands, each with very unique and contrasting marching styles, to form one cohesive unit,” said Lt. Col. Moore Urrutia. “It is a perfect picture of what is required for multinational cooperation—each one brings their own unique style and culture, yet is willing to adapt in order to achieve a common goal. In this case, that goal is to achieve musical harmony and military precision.”

The band also participated in a Ukrainian morning television show and a Flag Day concert at Taras Shevchenko Park followed by a performance by the Ukrainian and British bands.

Conducting multinational performances and operations supports the continued cooperation between allies and partners for collective defense initiatives.

Over nearly 30 years, the U.S. has been aligned with Ukraine on achieving mutual goals of freedom and independence, and the USAFE Band’s participation in Independence Day celebrations reinvigorates the military bonds between the two nations.

“It is difficult to face today’s challenges alone, but our presence highlights the U.S. commitment to stand with European allies and partners like Ukraine,” said Lt. Col. Moore Urrutia.

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