KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (NNS) -- The Pacific Fleet Band began six days of rehearsals at Stadium Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur on Aug. 31 in preparation for the Kuala Lumpur International Tattoo 2007.
The event, which takes place Sept. 6-8, celebrates Malaysia's 50th independence anniversary.
The tattoo features military bands from the United States, Jordan, Brunei, France, India, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Korea, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom, as well as a Maori cultural group from New Zealand.
The Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF), in collaboration with the Malaysian Ministry of Tourism, had spent several months organizing the celebration.
"The Kuala Lumpur International Tattoo has positioned itself to be a must-attend event, and I hope it will be a tremendous success and fondly remembered for many years to come," said Secretary-General of the Ministry of Tourism of Malaysia, Dr. Victor Wee. "The 12 international teams that make up the tattoo will surely make this event perfect for the celebration of our country's 50th anniversary of independence."
The mass rehearsals offered Pacific Fleet Band members a catalyst to share their musical talents with musicians from other nations.
"I've always believed music is a universal language, and out here it's holding true," said Musician 1st Class Scott Verville, guitarist. "There are hundreds of musicians from a number of different countries who speak dozens of different languages. But when we all get out on that field and the conductor raises his baton, we're all on the same page and language no longer is a barrier."
Some band members said this is the most diverse group of musicians they have met.
"I've participated in the Virginia International Tattoo, but it wasn't a culturally diverse as this event," said Musician 2nd Class Eric Snitzer, tuba player. "It's very cool to be here, and I'm excited at the opportunity to learn and share with all the cultures present. Part of the excitement is meeting musicians from all over the world; it's just not something we get to do on a regular basis."
Following the first day of rehearsals, Sailors performed in a small parade on the streets of Bukit Bintang to promote the upcoming international tattoo.
"Performing for the Malaysian people is what we came here for," said Musician 3rd Class Anthony Chiles, trumpet player. "The parade drew a great crowd; the people were enthusiastic and very interactive. It was quite a performance, and something I'll always remember about this trip."
The rehearsals and upcoming performances gave Sailors an opportunity to represent the United States as goodwill ambassadors.
"Part of our job while here in Kuala Lumpur is enhancing our countries international relations by showing off our pride and professionalism and using our talents to the best of our ability to show that we care," said Musician 2nd Class Benjamin Behnken, trombone player. "I'm just ready for the show to begin. It's something we as a unit have been looking forward to for some time."
For more news from U.S. Pacific Fleet, visit www.news.navy.mil/local/cpf/.