NORFOLK, Va. — A beloved cultural tradition in Hampton Roads is back for another year.
The Virginia Arts Festival's Virginia International Tattoo returns this weekend.
With 1,000 performers from eight different nations, the Tattoo is already a pretty big deal.
The centerpiece of the spectacular celebration this year will really be something special: A Salute to Women in the Military.
Women like Suz Whitman who served 32 years in the Navy, retiring last year as Fleet Master Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior enlisted female in the Navy.
"It's not about being a woman or a man, it's about doing the job," she said. " At the end of the day, we're just sailors. And we can do the job."
Just a hundred years ago, women were allowed to serve in uniform for the first time. More than 30,000 volunteered during the First World War. Today, one-sixth of all Active-Duty service members are women and these 230,000 women serve in every branch in virtually every capacity.
In the news earlier this year, a federal judge ruled that a military draft applying only to men is unconstitutional, saying that excluding women is no longer justified because they can now serve in combat roles just as men do.
Chris Reesor of the 4th Canadian Division Massed Pipes and Drums thinks the salute to women is long overdue.
"I think it's a fantastic idea. About time, actually," he said. "In fact, only recruit course, the person I was paired up with was a female, and she kicked my butt."
The Tattoo will take place Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at the Norfolk Scope.
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