296th Army Band Performs for Major League Baseball Season Opener and Operation Tomodachi Tribute

By SGT Patrick McGee
296th Army Band

News story photo
A very special ceremony took place in the Tokyo Dome on March 28, 2012 – The Major League Baseball Season Opener. At face value, the ceremony was significant because it marked the start of the Major League Baseball season and was broadcasted both nationally and internationally.

The game however, was only one part this event’s importance. It was also a tribute to Operation Tomodachi, the joint recovery initiative between Japan and the United States after the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Operation Tomodachi, which means “friend” in Japanese, brought relief and aid to those in need in the wake of this tragedy and further strengthened the bond between these two great nations.

As the ceremony began, the 296th took the field along with multi-service components from the US military and the Japanese Self Defense Forces. After a short video presentation, the band performed Summon the Heroes, by John Williams, while the US and Japanese service members unfurled their respective national flags, covering most of the outfield.

The crowd watched in reverent silence as a video tribute honored three individuals who contributed greatly to Operation Tomodachi. At the conclusion of the video, the honorees (and surviving family members) took the field, and another group unfurled the Tomodachi flag. The impact of this sight, the two national flags flanking the Tomodachi flag, stirred the audience to deafening applause.

The 296th then played the US National Anthem with SPC Amanda Tetreault singing. The Japanese Anthem followed, and finally the United States Ambassador to Japan handed out baseballs to the honorees who threw out the first pitches.

The 296th Army Band was honored to participate in this event – a fitting tribute to two great nations who pulled together in the shadow of tragedy to work toward a brighter future.

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