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Growing out of a small-town school event in California, Women’s History Month (March) is a celebration of women’s contributions to history, culture and society. The United States has observed it annually throughout the month of March since 1987. www.history.com
At the museum, we started March off by celebrating the accomplishments of women by attending the annual Tribute to Women in the Military at Kirtland Air Force Base, designing and creating aprons to hang at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in 2013 Apron Project installation, and partnering with local and national organizations to screen the film, Service: When Women Come Marching Home at the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History.
I would say that I have been a member of the military community since 1990. I was six years old at the time and my mother had accepted a job working as a DOD civilian at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. Flash forward twenty –two years (ok you can do the math, I’m 28!) and here I sit in military quarters on Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico.
I grew up amongst other children whose parents served in the military. I, never being exposed to military terms and titles, had no idea what the difference between varying ranks were. Being that my family was labeled “civilian” on a military base, we were always the family to be left behind while others moved on to new assignments. However, we did our fair share of moves, the most notable being to The Netherlands when I was eight years old. I can remember running along the canals of Holland as small child and speaking in broken Dutch when trying to purchase Gouda cheese. Another significant move in my childhood was when we relocated to Belgium, where my mother worked on the NATO base. It was there that I spent the remainder of my childhood, where I grew up in essence, living in the company of Belgian neighbors with their fabulous frites and waffles. I also met my husband while attending high school there. Read the rest of this entry »
WORKSHOP FOR MILITARY PARENTS & CHILDREN
November 10, 2012
The Museum of the American Military Family and Brats without Borders will present “A Life in Transit: Growing Up Military,” a workshop for military parents and their children, age 12 and up, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Nov. 10 at the Kirtland AFB Chapel. For more information, call Circe Olson Woessner, executive director of the Museum of the American Military Family, at (505) 504-6830.
Another session of this workshop will be at Manzano Mesa Multigenerational Center, Albuquerque at 1:45-3:00 November 10th.
BRATS, OUR JOURNEY HOME
November 11, 2012
In recognition of this national holiday honoring military veterans, the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History will be offering screenings of the film “Brats: Our Journey Home” on Sunday, November 11, at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., with a visit by filmmaker Donna Musil between the two showings. All service members, past and present, who show military identification will receive free admission. This day is co-hosted by http://www.museumoftheamericanmilitaryfamily.org/ 601 Eubank SE; 505-245-2137; http://www.nuclearmuseum.org
Over the past few months, we’ve introduced you to our board members. This month, meet Circe Olson Woessner, Executive Director.
Circe Olson was born in Evreux, France to American parents teaching at the US School on Dreux Air Force Base. When she was four, her parents moved to Karlsruhe, Germany, where her mother, Joan, got a job teaching first grade and her father, Allen, worked for the Directorate USDESEA.
Circe learned from her friends what it meant to be a military child, “Although I never physically moved, my friends did, and so I was always saying goodbye to someone—and as their dads continued trough their assignments, I welcomed my same friends back three or four years later. Many of my friends had German moms, and their dads came back to Germany so they could be close to their mom’s families for a tour. So I’d catch up with my elementary friends in junior high and then in late high school.”
That must have been foreshadowing …
“I met my husband, Bill, while attending the University of Maryland, Munich Campus, and we married at the end of our sophomore year. Our wedding was a curious blending of cultures and customs. Our invitations were in three languages to reflect the nationalities of our guests, and our wedding celebrations were in two countries. We had our civil wedding in Karlsruhe (Germany) and the church wedding was in Wissembourg (France).”
The newlyweds completed their schooling at Old Dominion University, in Norfolk, Virginia, and moved out to southern Indiana and started a family.
“Both Bill and I missed Europe,” Circe admits, “And it seemed the only way to get back there was for Bill to join the Army.” So in 1987, Bill shipped off to Basic Training and Officer’s Candidate School, and Circe and their young son, Erik, went to stay with Circe’s parents who were living in Heidelberg, Germany.
Circe and Erik joined Bill at his OCS graduation, and they started their Army Career at Ft. Sill, OK.
“I remember going to classes to learn how to be a good officer’s wife—how to host a tea, dress properly and be a good support for my husband. It was so strange for me at the time—especially since I didn’t really like to do any of the things that I was told officers’ wives ‘do’.”
There was also a learning curve. “Once, I parked in a ‘General Officers’ parking space. I figured that as a 2LT, Bill was about the most general of all the officers—it wasn’t like he was anything important…” She was soon told of her error and after that stayed clear of the prime parking spots.
The Woessners soon moved back to Germany, to the 3/11 ACR based in Bad Hersfeld, near the East German border. It was a hard but great tour. The troops were in the field 280 days of the year, but the Cav wives were a tough and resilient bunch.
Circe and her neighbor, Laura, would pack up their kids-Laura had two girls—and they’d explore the back roads and small towns around Hessen. It was a great experience for all.
The Iron Curtain crumbled in 1989 and East Germans streamed across the border. “It was great to be part of history,” Circe recalls. “I taught English to eastern European immigrants, and at the same time, did some PR work—undoing years of Soviet brainwashing about how horrible Americans were.”
After Germany, the Woessners—now with baby Iain—moved to Redstone Arsenal (AL), Ft. Jackson (SC) and Ft. Buchanan, Puerto Rico.
“Up until Puerto Rico, I had never had a full-time job. I’d worked as a substitute teacher or part-time for the youth center or library on post, but I finally got a job teaching for the Defense Department school on Roosevelt Roads Naval Station.”
Life in the tropics was interesting—the Woessners survived hurricanes—one of which, Georges—left them without power, water or phone for six weeks, a bout of denge fever, and wild lizards and huge spiders roaming through the house.
“Puerto Rico was great-we went snorkeling and scuba diving, we bought a condo on the beach and a motor boat. We cruised to all the islands and we loved the island life.”
Bill got transferred to the Washington DC area, and the family enjoyed living in southern Maryland, soaking in US history and enjoying the Chesapeake Bay.
In 2001,The family moved to Kirtland Air Force Base where Bill assumed command of the 21st EOD detachment. Circe got a job with the Department of Air Force (thanks, in part, to Spouse Preference). Bill declared that he was done moving—New Mexico was THE Place to retire.
In 2008, son Erik, followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the Army and within a year, shipped off to Iraq.
“It was while he was overseas, I got the idea to start the Museum of the American Military Family. It’s a lifestyle, a calling –service, actually–that is hard to describe and for non-military people to understand. Military families are a unique, proud group and their stories should be told. Because in reality—Service members and their families serve together.”
July was very productive for the Museum of the American Military Family (MAMF). Members of the board met for a third time with Albuquerque city officials regarding building a permanent structure in the metro area, and two firms sent in proposals for the museum building, one of which is shown here.
Operation Footlocker made several appearances throughout Albuquerque– at the VA Cooperative Studies Center, JRs BBQ, American Legion Post 49 and at the Route 66 Festival. Operation Footlocker also made its way up to Denver, Colorado to the 24th annual DODDS Reunion.
Everywhere we went, we got an enthusiastic welcome…none more so than the group staffing the footlocker at the Route 66 Festival in the Nob Hill section of historic Route 66, a.k.a Central Avenue.
I was not there, but Allen, Rachael, Wanda, Jude and their significant others assure me that after spending hours next to the Techno booth next to them, they went home with permanent “dub step” pounding in their brains—and not to mention—temporary deafness and mild sunburn.
What we do to carry out our Museum’s mission: “celebrating over two centuries of our military families’ remarkable contributions…together they serve…”!
I was up in Denver and had very productive meetings with the board of the American Overseas Schools Historic Society (AOSHS) and with Donna Musil, Founder of Brats without Borders. We agreed to collaborate on some interesting initiatives in the coming months.
Our planning committee continued to fine-tune our strategic plan and to develop a robust marketing strategy.
We kicked off our logo contest, asking people from the community to submit ideas for our museum’s logo, and a few submissions have come in. We, in the interim, have selected a design to use for merchandise.
On July 28th at our quarterly meeting, we said farewell to two board members, Julianna Sutherland, Marketing Director, and Bill Armstrong, Secretary of Public Affairs—after two years of service. We appreciate all they did (and continue to do) for the museum. We elected Polly H. Mclaughlin, Marketing Director and welcomed Rachael Cleveland to her new position as Education and Social Media Programs Director. We voted to further restructure and expand the board, and are actively recruiting for several board positions. (See our website for details)
We continue to fund-raise, as we haven’t quite met our goal for this quarter. Our supporters have been generous in this poor economy, and we thank them for their trust and confidence in us.
What’s next for MAMF?
We are partnering with the Bataan Military Academy and the Albuquerque Institute for Math and Science in Albuquerque this school year. We will be working with the Sea Cadets and Civil Air Patrol programs.
We continue to work with the National Nuclear Museum and our other local and national partners in building our exhibit for the fall.
We continue to gather the stories and memories of the American Military Family—if you have items to donate or stories to share, please email us at email@example.com .
We continue to develop our podcast, “Schooling With Uncle Sam” and will add another, “Together We Serve”. We plan to add a book review to our blogs. We will begin redesigning and migrating our website to another platform.
Over the next few weeks, we will feature the stories of our board members here, so you learn of their military story and better appreciate why they want to represent the Museum of the American Military Family.
We thank you for your continued support…as we support and honor the American Military Family.
Circe Olson Woessner, Executive Director, MAMF
by Circe Olson Woessner,
Over the next few months, I will introduce you to one of our board members. This month, I will feature Rachael Cleveland, Education and Social Media Programs Manager, who joined us in June 2012. Here’s a little bit about her:
Rachael Cleveland, Education and Social Media Programs Manager , is a military brat, business owner, and freelance writer. Born to a career sailor and a Department of Defense employee (both with 20+ years and still going), she’s lived in six states and three countries. After receiving her Bachelor’s in English from the University of New Mexico, she combined her scholastic know-how and passion for education into a tutoring business, Learn With Rachael. Through social media, networking, and blogging, she hopes to help each military family learn about the Museum of the American Military Family (MAMF). She also founded the social groups, ABQ Brats and SW Brats.
Rachael admits, “From the very first moment I stumbled upon the museum’s website, I realized that this was something special. I’m thrilled to be in on the ground floor and from this early point. The museum will not only show other military families out there that they are part of a strong, proud history, but it will help demonstrate to the rest of the country that just like our service members, we too, have gone out of our way to support our nation. The museum stands to help future generations come to terms with the military life and offer closure and community to those who have already made it through.”
Rachael adds, “For over 20 years, I’ve been preparing for this position from those early days, standing at piers, squinting at the incoming submarines, and hoping to see one mustachioed face in particular smiling back. Life as a brat has not always been easy, but I understand those difficulties and also the blessings for both military brats and the children of Department of Defense Employees.
“As a young adult, my specific experiences span the Cold War to the War on Terror. I know that my experiences stand apart from those of my civilian peers and with my own stories, I can help other young people today realize the severity of our more contemporary history.”
Rachael is very technologically savvy. She comes to us with years of social networking and technology experience. She has enthusiasm, focus and drive, which we at MAMF really admire and appreciate. Because of her experiences and specific skills, we believe that she can bring a fresh, youthful vitality to the museum to help it connect with the most recent generations of brats and also be a positive, inspiring role model.
Rachael, will help the museum provide outreach to schools and military family and brat organizations.
Rachael says, “I believe that part of civic duty is to give back. This is the way I want to give back to the world that raised me, and I know I have what it takes to make a difference.”
To learn more about Rachael, check out her sites at:
Circe Olson Woessner never raised her right hand and promised “to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
That doesn’t mean that she hasn’t served her country. As a wife, a mother and a daughter, she has served in a military role that you don’t hear much about on Veterans Day or Memorial Day — that of a family member.
As a girl, she followed her mother and father around the world as they worked in American Department of Defense schools that served military families. As a wife, she moved more than 20 times during her husband’s military career. And as a mother, she worries about a son who serves in the Army.
It was during her son’s deployment to Iraq when she got the idea for a museum that celebrates the American military family.
“All I could think was that there were Iraqi families that were worried about their sons,” Woessner said. “I thought, ‘military moms are tough, we have to be.’ “
It also led her online to see what resources were available. And while there are many organizations to help — some supported by the military and others, like the Blue Star Mothers, that are private — there was no one who was collecting the stories of family members.
Ever since the founding of our country, there have been military family members. And their role has only increased as American bases have been located overseas.
And so the Museum of the American Military Family was born. With the help of her father, Allen Olson of Tijeras, Woessner has been working toward getting a permanent home for the museum, as well as creating exhibits and gathering information.
The father and daughter hope to find a location in New Mexico in which to put the museum, and both are optimistic that will happen.
In the meantime, though, they are putting together an exhibit to be shown at the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History in Albuquerque. Woessner says that the exhibit could be up by the fall, but that $20,000 is needed to create and set up the exhibit.
“It sounds like a lot of money,” she said, “but if we can find a corporation to underwrite this it will be easy.”
Without a building and with the need to raise money for exhibits in other museums, the Museum of the American Military Family is mostly an online presence, but it also has a traveling display called Operation Footlocker.
Woessner explained that an old military footlocker stuffed with mementos and is sent to different locations as a community outreach. The footlocker is sent out to different organizations with the trust that it will be returned intact. In addition, Woessner said her museum is working on an educational outreach where a museum member will take a footlocker to a school or other organization and give a presentation.
“We want people to realize that when a service member signs up, there is a family that shares that commitment,” Woessner said. “Our main mission is to preserve the history on the military family.”
The museum is sponsoring a logo contest. Those interested can go to the museum’s website at http://www.museumoftheamerican militaryfamily.org or its Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/Museum oftheAmerican Military Family to enter the contest, or find out how they can share their stories, photos and items.
Woessner can be reached at 505-504-6830 for more information on the museum.
Contact Rory McClannahan at 823-7102 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
May and June have been busy months here at the museum. We are in full fund-raising mode. We have two major projects we’re working towards: the five-month exhibit at the National Nuclear Museum and the construction of a permanent space in the Albuquerque metro.
As we meet with service organizations, military families and state and local officials, we have been encouraged to continue our mission to tell the stories of our military families.
We sat down with liaisons from the Albuquerque Mayor’s Office Constituent Services, and members from both the Planning and Parks & Recreation Departments to determine what we will need to do to build a physical museum in the metro area. We have had several productive and encouraging meetings and we plan at least two more in July—each of which will move us closer to our goal of having a building in 2013.
We met with two construction firms, describing what we would like in a structure, and both builders gave us very reasonable initial bids. Because we are in the beginning phase, the blueprints and renderings will be adjusted and tweaked. (Right now we are looking at around $200,000.)
A realtor showed us a possible museum site over in the neighboring city of Rio Rancho, and we also explored other potential locations in nearby East Mountain communities.
Our board met on June 23 to discuss our fundraising progress and to vote on adding another board member to our team. We agreed that the addition of “Brat Liaison” Rachael Cleveland, founder of ABQ Brats, would be super for our organization.
Also, on the 23rd, we spent the afternoon with a group of subject-matter experts developing our strategic plan—we identified our long-term goals and discussed sustainability, our financial perspective and much more. We will meet again in July to complete the mapping. Again, our community’s generosity and support of our purpose is clear: These busy people volunteered an afternoon of their time to help us.
Additionally, we were interviewed by the Rio Rancho Observer in May and the Mountain View Telegraph in June and appreciated the positive media attention.
In July, if we meet our fundraising goals, we will begin designing and building our exhibit under the tutelage of the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History. We are so excited and honored to have such a strong and generous partner!
So, just into our second year, we continue steady progress. With the further support of generous individuals and institutions, we will continue to celebrate 200+ years of American Military Family history—remember: They Served, too!
April was a busy month for the Museum of the American Military Family. On April 13th, 2012, three Board members took a footlocker to the Kirtland Air Force Base library to celebrate the Month of the American Military Child. The footlocker was well received, and library patrons asked questions about the footlocker contents and the museum itself. Several people sat down and wrote out their memories on the spot; others promised to submit stories to the museum via e-mail or snail-mail.
On April 14, 2012 the MAMF board of Directors met for its quarterly meeting. Most Board members were physically present and one member called in from Texas. The Board discussed the Operation Footlocker exhibits held at both the Kirtland chapel and library and planned similar exhibits in New Mexico on Memorial Day They also discussed plans for Operation Footlocker to exhibit at the State History Museum on Veterans Day.
The Board agreed that their most pressing need is to raise funds to support the exhibit this fall in the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History. They also considered developing and distributing items with Museum logos, such as pins, caps, and T-shirts, and to have an on-line gift shop and donation option..
The museum will also partner with the Freunde Giesings e. V in Munich, Germany. Freunde Giesings has requested MAMF’s assistance in putting together an exhibit about American families living in Munich during the Cold War years. The exhibit will be held in October 2012 in the Giesinger Bahnhof Cultural Center.
On April 15th, members of the Museum Board went to Jemez Pueblo to interview two WW II Veterans and their families and several other military family members. These interviews will be on the MAMF website in both written and audio forms by the end of April.
MAMF has received been corresponding with a filmmaker who is making a documentary about the children who survived the attacks on Pearl Harbor during WW II, and a Professor at the University of Kentucky who teaches a class on oral history.
MAMF now has a Flickr page and a Pinterest account and has set itself up on Goodsearch, a search engine powered by Yahoo, that donates 50% of its revenue, about a penny per search, to listed American charities and schools designated by its users.The money donated comes from the site’s advertisers.According to the company’s website, as of January 2011, more than 96,000 non-profits are participating in the program. We would like our museum supporters to sign into Goodsearch and use it to raise money for the museum.
MAMF is blessed because it has strong supporters, a highly dedicated board and an awesome mission.
If you want to help, please consider signing up with Goodsearch http://www.goodsearch.com/nonprofit/museum-of-the-american-military-family.aspx to be your search engine, and as always, please send us your stories and photographs.
Circe Olson Woessner, MAMF Executive Director.