Old Route 66 is getting a new tenant. The nation’s only museum dedicated to the mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, spouses, and other family members of those who serve and have served in America’s military is settling in at the I-40 interchange with Tijeras. Founder and Executive Director, Dr. Circe Olson Woessner, says the move is going well, “and we plan a grand opening at 3:30 p.m. on July 9.”
Till last summer, MAMF was an on-line presence, but last July set up temporarily in the Bataan Military Academy yet continued providing programs in various venues, to include Explora, the Balloon Museum, the National Nuclear Museum, the South Broadway Cultural Center, the Special Collections Library, the Veterans Memorial Park, schools, and patriotic ceremonies around the state. Its Operation Footlocker mobile exhibit program travels throughout the country and its Flat Stanley and Flat Stella programs follow military families around the world.
“Like everything we do,” Woessner said, “our move to Tijeras is done by volunteers. We are an all-volunteer entity with no paid staff, and our programs and classes are supported by grants, donors, and volunteers, and they’ve all been packing, carrying, unpacking, cleaning, and painting to get us ready to open next month. All of our board members and advisors are volunteers.”
Woessner said the new facility will have an artifacts/exhibit area, a library, a crafts room, and a gift shop. “We’re in a house,” she said; “the former home of Molly who established the historic destination bar bearing her name, so as visitors walk in they’ll see what could be the home of a military family that makes a new home every two or three years.”
Exhibition panels describe the various elements affecting family life in the military and the kinds of schools military children attend around the world.
“We’ll be open Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays,” she said, “and we’ll be free to the public.” She said there’s plenty of free parking and praised the attractiveness of the Tijeras Pass leading some seven miles east of Albuquerque along Old Route 66 (Central Avenue), including the “Musical Road.”
The Museum of the American Military Family (MAMF) is at 546B State Highway 333 (Old Route 66), Tijeras, NM 87059. Tel: (505) 504-6830; firstname.lastname@example.org; P.O. Box 5085, Albuquerque, NM 87185. militaryfamilymuseum.org
Summer is PCS season, and even though my husband and I have long retired in the Albuquerque area, I usually get restless in June. As a military family, we moved 18 times in 20 years, and the Wanderlust just doesn’t go away. I find myself searching USAJobs, the federal employment website, to see where there are job openings I can apply for.
Several weeks ago, I came home to my adoring family, and asked, “Anyone want to move to Cheyenne?” The silence was deafening. “How about Guam?” Again, there were no takers. My family, apparently, has settled—permanently. It’s probably for the best—imaginary moving is much easier on the household goods than the real thing.
Years ago when we PCSed from Germany to Alabama, we found that movers had stacked heavy book boxes on our antique couch, causing it to collapse in a V shape. It never recovered, and we ended up throwing it away.
It could have been worse, as Air Force Brat William recalls, “When we left Greece, the Greek company the Air Force hired went bankrupt and opened the warehouse to their employees. We lost most of our household goods. It really hit me hard. We had about two-thirds of our furniture missing. The Air Force made good on the claim, but you can’t really put a price on all that childhood stuff I lost.”
Leslie, another Brat, agrees, “In the early 60s we were stationed in West Germany. Back then, they did not allow for much weight because the Army provided most furnishings. One day I came home from school and Mom was crying. The ‘fireproof’ storage in the States had burned down– all of our pictures, doll collection from Japan and Korea, and souvenirs from prior assignments—were gone. The government paid insurance of pennies on the dollar. While I realize they were just ‘things’ –for us, they were our history.”
Of course, every military family has a funny moving story or two—the packers shipping the trash or full diaper pail—or worse—in one case, raw fish that was being defrosted for dinner!
Most military family members can tell similar stories. Colleen remembers, “My sister had a birthday party the day before our move from Texas to Italy. When our crate arrived several months later, we found all the balloons, completely deflated, carefully wrapped in paper.
David says, “One mover tried packing my cat, thinking it was a stuffed animal because the cat had not moved from the couch the entire time the movers were there packing boxes. Boy did he get a surprise!”
There were near disasters as well. One man found his cat in the bottom right drawer of his desk when he got to Klamath, CA. He explains, “She was fine. A little confused, but it was only a two-day trip from McCord.”
Falena sums it up, “I loved the things I learned about moving in Brat life because I can move better than anyone I know without breakage or loss. That ‘change in latitude, change in attitude’ kind of lifestyle runs deep and long.”
It is somewhat like riding a bicycle—some skills are never lost. Even now, my packing skills are formidable—and a godsend.
The Museum of the American Military Family is relocating to Tijeras this month. It is, in military terms, a DITY move. I’ve managed to stuff my Explorer to the brim–somewhat like a Tetris puzzle–making sure nothing rattles around and everything arrives unbroken at its destination. Most of the board and volunteers are also military, and I know we will do much better than any commercial mover—we are the experts after all.
Starting July 9, come visit MAMF at its new location at 546 State Hwy 333 (Old 66) in Tijeras, NM, right next to Molly’s Bar. Call (505) 504-6830 for hours and more information.
Memorial Day will soon be here.
Many see this as a three day weekend or the unofficial start to Summer. Some will understand and pay their respects/remember those that died while serving for a few moments.
OVERSEAS BRATS (OSB) created years ago a memorial to remember those Brats who died while serving, everyday. Not just Memorial Day. OSB takes this one step further to recognize those Brats who died while serving in law enforcement. They too served. Visit the memorial at: www.overseasbrats.com/BratMemorial.asp .
Please note: This is a list of those Brats/Educator who were reported to OVERSEAS BRATS and NOT a list of all Brats/Educators who died while serving in the military/law enforcement. Read the rest of this entry »
In 1986, Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger established April as the “Month of the Military Child”, recognizing U.S. military children ranging in age from infant to 18 years old, who have one or both parents serving in the armed forces.
Recently, a group of adult military brats began a grass-roots movement to make April 30 the official National Military Brats Day. Like so many grass-roots efforts, the movement began in small discussions on social media, quickly became organized and gained momentum.
Why April 30th?
Through discussions and polls, participants agreed that April 30, the last day of the month honoring military children, would be most meaningful to adult brats. It would symbolize the time many of them– at age 18—or 23 if they were in college– had to give up their ID cards and leave behind the only lifestyle they had ever known.
“The worst thing about being a military brat is not being a military brat anymore. When they take away your ID card, they take away your life. Everything you’ve known. Everything that is security to you.” –Marc Curtis, founder of Military Brats Registry.
Curtis estimates there are about 15 million military brats – those who are, or once were, the children of active duty service personnel.
Military Brat Cultural Identity
Best-selling author Pat Conroy was a major supporter of the research and writing efforts of journalist Mary Edwards Wertsch and filmmaker Donna Musil, who have both devoted their lives to studying the effects of military life on children. Conroy’s novel, The Great Santini, was inspired by his life growing up under the strict discipline of a US Marine officer, and his story resonated with many military children.
In 1991, Wertsch’s book, Military Brats: Legacies of Childhood inside the Fortress identified common themes, special challenges and strengths and the unique subculture experienced by American military dependents.
Conroy wrote the introduction to Wertsch’s book, saying,
“Her book speaks in a language that is clear and stinging and instantly recognizable to me, yet it’s a language I was not even aware I spoke. She isolates the military brats of America as a new indigenous subculture with our own customs, rites of passage, forms of communication, and folkways…”
Conroy also authorized the use of his work in the award-winning documentary Brats: Our Journey Home, directed by Donna Musil, founder of “Brats without Borders.”
Musil explains, “Growing up ‘brat’ has a profound effect on a person’s life. It shapes the way one thinks, feels, and behaves—as a child and as an adult. Brats without Borders has been a voice for this invisible subculture–from advocating for after school Brats Clubs, the new BRAT Art Institute, to keeping our name. Brats without Borders raises awareness of the culture, contributions and challenges of brats and ‘Third Culture Kids’.”
“An adult military brat is a very unique person, as (he or she) grew up unconventionally… some brats hold dear the [military] and its bases, longing to return ‘home’; others walk away as soon as possible and then stay as far away as possible”-Gene Moser, Army brat and Army veteran.
Army brat Anita Pope says, “I feel like I had the best childhood ever. We grew up with such a diverse group of people over the years; we did not know prejudice. Everyone was treated equally, and we grew to be super flexible people.”
Some Brat Culture:
In March of 1998, another grassroots movement online chose the dandelion as the “Official Military Brat Flower.”
“ The [dandelion] puts down roots almost anywhere. It is almost impossible to get rid of…It’s a survivor in a broad range of climates… This just illustrates my motto, which is ‘bloom where you’re planted’.”–Anne Christopherson
And so the dandelion was adopted. Over the years, dandelions have cropped up on pins, bumper stickers, tee shirts and insignia—instantly identifying military children to each other.
“Children of the world, blown to all corners of the world, we bloom anywhere!”
Purple symbolizes all branches of the military, as it is the combination of Army green, Marine red, and Coast Guard, Navy and Air Force blue. During the month of April, people are encouraged to wear purple to show support to military children.
According to Wikipedia, “the origin of the term ‘military brat’ is unknown. There is some evidence that it dates back hundreds of years into the British Empire, and originally stood for ‘British Regiment Attached Traveler’. However, acronyms are a product of the 20th century and all attempts to trace this theory have failed to find a legitimate source.”
Overseas Brats founder, Joe Condrill, elaborates, “Today’s U.S. military dependents also use: ‘Born, Raised And Trained’; ‘Born, Rough And Tough’, and a number of other explanations.”
No matter where the word originated, many military children have embraced the term, although in recent years, there have been other alternatives proposed.
Misty Corrales, who, along with her husband Jon, created the National Brats Day logo says, “[Some] view it as derogatory or insulting. How can it be when our culture identifies with it and embraces it? At its most basic translation, ‘brat’ merely means ‘child of’. Military brats are children of the military. But we grow up. We’re not always children. And trust me, we’re not spoiled.
“We’re working to gain recognition, not just for the active duty brats, but for veteran brats… We plan to raise $1,500 to have “Brat’s Day’ placed on the National Days Calendar. We’ve claimed April 30 as our day, and we want to make it official.”
In addition to having National Brats Day placed on the National Days Calendar, many people are asking that Congress set aside a day each year as National Military Brats Day, so “Americans can thank these patriots, young and grown, for their dedication and sacrifice in the service of their country.”
For more information on the National Brats Day Initiative, please visit http://MilitaryBratsInc.org.
“SHOUT: Sharing Our Truth: An Anthology of Writings by LGBT Veterans and Family Members of the U.S. Military Services”Posted: April 9, 2016
MAMF Special Projects Writer Caroline LeBlanc is seeking stories for:
“SHOUT: Sharing Our Truth: An Anthology of Writings by LGBT Veterans and Family Members of the U.S. Military Services”
This anthology seeks first-hand experiences—good, bad, and in between—as an LGBT veteran or family member, during and/or after military service. Our goal is to create a book that will allow you to tell parts of your story that will also be helpful for others to read—others who live or want to understand the LGBT veteran experience. The last chapter of the book will list resources available to LGBT veterans.
Do not submit any materials previously published in print or online. Identifying information should be included in the body of the email only.
What Genres to Submit:
Fiction: up to 1200 words.
Non-Fiction (memoir, essays, and other non-fiction): up to 1200 words
Poetry: up to 40 lines.
Reviews: up to 1200 words about a movie, book, music, etc. that you think are important for others to know about.
Resources: submit information on resources you have found particularly helpful. (Name, webpage, telephone number, and services)
You may submit up to 2 pieces in each genre. Each piece must be attached in a separate file. All pieces in a given category must be submitted in the same email. Pieces in separate categories must be submitted in separate emails.
Submissions are accepted between March 20 and June 20, 2016. For more information or for guidelines on how to submit, please visit:
In anticipation of National Military Brat Day, the Museum of the American Military (MAMF) is showcasing Brats through two initiatives.
We’ love your participation in the following:
Send MAMF a postcard with your Brat memory on it. Please write only your first name, your years affiliated, your branch, and a short story or memory.
We will add the postcards to our Brat Display celebrating National Military Brat Day in April. Postcards will be added to the nearly 500 in our collection– they get scanned and posted on our blog and then are stored permanently in our Special Collections Library. We really need more Brat stories represented.
Postcards can be mailed to:
Museum of the American Military Family & Learning Center
PO Box 5085
Albuquerque, NM 87185
DANDELION PHOTOS for our Facebook “Garden”:
We would like a photograph of Brats holding a dandelion, real or otherwise. ( We’ve seen postings of paintings and necklaces and beer coasters and pins of dandelions that you guys own, so we’d love to post you with the item) Please send your digital photo with your first name and branch of affiliation to:
These photos will be posted on our FB starting 1 April and going through the 30th. Let’s aim for 100 photos from Brats!