Hillary Clinton was on ABC’s AM Radio programme this morning, defending why she wouldn’t be visiting Canberra during her first official overseas trip to Asia, as Barack Obama’s Secretry Of State. Without falter, Mrs Clinton immediately launched into the well versed and practiced statement about the US/Australia allience – a marriage between our two countries forged during the unknown days of World War Two.
“We know that Australia is one of our most trusted allies in the world” said Hillary Clinton, “.. and we remain grateful for our work together in the past and what we will do together in the future.”
Hence explains the welcoming mat shown to a seven piece band from the US Air Force at Palmerston High School. “We’re not your typical military band”, an enthusastic keyboardist spokesman Master Sergent Neill Herndon explained: “This is very exciting for us .. as a musical group it’s very exciting for us to get out and play for the younger audiences. We get to play some exciting music, more modern music. We play for a whole lot of different audiences and some of the folks that are older .. we’ll play that kind of music for them. But today, it’s the younger folks music and it’s very exciting.”
The excitement was catching!
Within minutes of the lead male vocalist launching into “Living in America” .. some of the 200 students in the audience were on their feet and dancing to the yanky tunes.
At a time when the US military fills the daily news pages with coverage from Iraq or Afghanistan – the Band leave’s a positive impression of the US in the minds of the several hundred students, who are no doubt enjoying the chance to skip class, at least for half an hour.
According to MSG Herndon, the Band had to go back to school too: “We looked up Waltzing Matilda and found out a lot of different words, tucker bag – billabong and those types of things so we’re learning a lot about the culture and it’s wonderful.”
The US Air Force Band visit coinscides with Thursday’s 69th Bombing Of Darwin Ceremony. The exact number is not known – but officially 251 people were killed in the first Japenese bombing raids on the 19th of February, 1942. 91 of the dead were American sailors, onboard the USS Peary docked in Darwin Harbour.
So over five days – performing at schools, retirement homes and Royal Darwin Hospital, the Air Force crew are sharing the unspoken bond – a mix of gratitude, understanding, loss and commitment – between Australia and the United States. Turkey’s leader Mustafa Kemal Attaturk wrote – “You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears: your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace.” Like the British, Australia, New Zealand, French and other nationalities buried at Gallipoli – the 91 USS Peary sailors entombed in Darwin Harbour – are now treated as Australian’s. Explaining in part the ‘no worries’ and unconditionally welcoming additude shown to this US Air Force Band.