MAMF Celebrates One Year in Tijeras, NM

A year ago today, the Museum of the American Military Family opened its doors in the village Tijeras, NM (Right next to Molly’s Bar). What a year it’s been! We’ve hosted nearly 900 visitors, and have hosted movies, book discussion groups and music events. We’ve opened our archives to researchers and have hosted numerous Naturalization ceremonies. We dedicated our Memorial to Military Families…This fall, we will publish two more anthologies: “War Child: Lessons Learned Growing Up in War”, and “SHOUT: Sharing our Truth”. We will open two new exhibits: “Inside Out” and “Host Nation Hospitality”. We will have our cookbook “Homefront Hearth” ready for the new exhibit.

We could not have done it without you—and we cannot continue without your support—it truly takes a village to create our Museum, dedicated to America’s Military Families.

If you haven’t already, please like us on Facebook, visit our website, check out our blogs and podcasts…Share our info with your friends and alum groups…

If you like what you see, please consider sending us a story, becoming a member or sending in a tax-free donation…every little bit helps preserve the history of the countless men, women and children who serve alongside those who serve….

THANK YOU!

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Join MAMF at an Overseas Brats Regional Event in Albuquerque

We are pleased to announce that the next regional get-together of Brats who live in the Albuquerque area will happen:

WHEN: Thursday, February 16, 2017 from 6:30 -9 p.m.

WHERE: Cervantes Restaurant, 5801 Gibson Blvd. SE, Albuquerque, NM (telephone: 505-262-2253).

WHO: You and anyone else connected with our special heritage!

WHAT: Annual gathering of Brats like us!
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This event is:
FUN! Meaningful! Designed to build up your Brat heritage! Will introduce you to REAL Brat friendships! Economical and accessible!
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Presently:
Over 40 Brats and Educators representing hundreds of bases/communities/overseas schools are interested.
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Register at: http://www.overseasbrats.com . Click on Upcoming Events. Then click on Regional Get-Togethers and scroll down to where you see this event mentioned. Registration discount if you register before January 15.
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REGIONAL GET-TOGETHERS FOR ALL BRATS ARE CURRENTLY PLANNED FOR EACH OF THE FOLLOWING AREAS:
Register for one or more, as you wish!

2017 Upcoming Regionals:
DFW Metro area (Grapevine, TX): Saturday, January 28, 2017, 11am to 4pm
Oklahoma City, Sunday, January 29, 2017, Noon to 4pm
Albuquerque: Thursday, February 16, 2017, 6 – 9 pm.
Arizona (Phoenix): Saturday, February 18, 2017 11 am to 4 pm
Southern California (Long Beach): Sunday, February 19, 2017 Noon to 4 pm
Central Texas (San Antonio): Saturday, February 25, 2017, 11am to 4pm
Houston, Sunday, February 26, 2017, Noon to 4pm


Overseas Brats Founder Joe Condrill to host dinner in Albuquerque, NM

We are pleased to announce that the next regional get-together of Brats who live in the Albuquerque area will happen:

WHEN: Thursday, February 16, 2017 from 6:30 -9 p.m.

WHERE: Cervantes Restaurant, 5801 Gibson Blvd. SE, Albuquerque, NM (telephone: 505-262-2253).

WHO: You and anyone else connected with our special heritage!

WHAT: Annual gathering of Brats like us!
****************
This event is:
FUN! Meaningful! Designed to build up your Brat heritage! Will introduce you to REAL Brat friendships! Economical and accessible!
****************
Presently:
Over 40 Brats and Educators representing hundreds of bases/communities/overseas schools are interested.
****************
Register at: http://www.overseasbrats.com . Click on Upcoming Events. Then click on Regional Get-Togethers and scroll down to where you see this event mentioned. Registration discount if you register before January 15.
****************

REGIONAL GET-TOGETHERS FOR ALL BRATS ARE CURRENTLY PLANNED FOR EACH OF THE FOLLOWING AREAS:
Register for one or more, as you wish!

2017 Upcoming Regionals:
DFW Metro area (Grapevine, TX): Saturday, January 28, 2017, 11am to 4pm
Oklahoma City, Sunday, January 29, 2017, Noon to 4pm
Albuquerque: Thursday, February 16, 2017, 6 – 9 pm.
Arizona (Phoenix): Saturday, February 18, 2017 11 am to 4 pm
Southern California (Long Beach): Sunday, February 19, 2017 Noon to 4 pm
Central Texas (San Antonio): Saturday, February 25, 2017, 11am to 4pm
Houston, Sunday, February 26, 2017, Noon to 4pm


A Buck A Brat Dandelion Challenge

attn-brats


April is also the Month of the (Adult) Military Child.

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’.”

 Unconventional Childhoods

“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:

 The Dandelion

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.

 Motto:

“Children of the world, blown to all corners of the world, we bloom anywhere!”

 “Purple Up”

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.

 “Brat”

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.

NMBDlogo

 

 

 


Brats! Please Participate during April!

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:

POSTCARD PROJECT:

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:

Militaryfamilymuseum@comcast.net

These photos will be posted on our FB starting 1 April and going through the 30th. Let’s aim for 100 photos from Brats!

Read the rest of this entry »


Home Front Salute: December 2015

This time of year inspires me to reminisce about my childhood in Germany, and to the places my husband and I were stationed during his military career. Judging from the message boards on social media, many military families do the same thing. Many American service families have fond memories of visiting the Christmas markets in Germany, attending luaus in Hawaii, celebrating Eid Al-Adha in Morocco, or ringing in the New Year overseas.

Our military family moved a lot, and we’ve blended holidays, customs, foods, traditions, and music along the way, hopefully making good memories for our children.

As an American child growing up in Germany, I made paper lanterns every November in my DOD school, and on November 11th, Saint Martin’s day, I would join dozens of German children parading through the streets of Karlsruhe singing songs by lantern light.

Years later, our family was stationed back in Germany, and our son Erik, who was attending German kindergarten, paraded through the town of Niederaula with his classmates.   Saint Martin, himself, riding on horseback, led the parade to a bonfire in a field just out of town. We adults drank mulled wine and watched as our children played together.

In Puerto Rico, our neighbors introduced us to the custom of paranda, and we went from house to house singing and drinking coquito into the wee hours of the night. Later, we joined our new friends in a community feast and enjoyed slabs of a whole pig, which had been slow roasted all day over coals in a pit.

Until we were stationed in the Deep South, I had never seen a black eyed pea, let alone eat one. So, while living in South Carolina and Alabama we ate black-eyed peas for New Years.

Facebook is full of stories from military family members who have incorporated elements of the host nation’s holidays into their own lives and who introduced their host nation neighbors to traditional American holidays. This blending of traditional American and foreign elements into our holiday celebrations is something many of us consider normal.

Military Brat Amber recalls, “Our tradition was to be nontraditional! Whatever country we were in, that was the “flavor” for the holidays! So typical turkey, ham and beef were replaced with German, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian or other countries’ dishes! I share this tradition of being non-traditional with my kids today!”

Especially overseas, we celebrated together—with greatly extended families of married couples, single service members and, with our civilian neighbors. Those  memories have lasted a lifetime.

Jim says, “My wife and I still talk about spending Thanksgiving dinner with our fathers and the troops in the mess halls as Brats.”

Candalee recalls, “We were always living overseas. My mom would cook her butt off and invite all the men in my dad’s troop to come for dinner. It was awesome. Always festive and a house full during the holidays…”

Military wife, Ursula, agrees, “ We always invited single soldiers from my husband’s unit who had no place to go. What an experience that was!”

The children of military and DoD personnel overseas walk between worlds—their own American one, their military one, and that of their host nation. Because of their unique circumstances, they create their own cultural identity, and it is, for the most part, inclusive.

I grew up knowing I was an Ambassador for America—as did most of my peers–and I believe that feeling of responsibility extends into today’s military families.
By living overseas, learning new customs and meeting new people, we represent the best of the United States.

Being an Ambassador meant learning diplomacy as Air Force daughter Misty learned:  “…My first Fourth of July outside of America… in England, waving a flag while living on the economy in this particular host nation could easily be considered an insult. Considering how warmly our particular group of neighbors had welcomed us, the last thing we wanted to do was insult them.”

One young man says of his military upbringing: “Germany exposed me to many other cultures… Before Germany, I never had friends who weren’t of my own race and I am forever in debt as a result.”

Deborah remembers a Thanksgiving years ago: “My father’s secretary and her parents ate with us one year in Morocco, and her father fell in love with jellied cranberry sauce. My parents gave them a couple of cans and her Dad kept hugging and kissing my Dad, back and forth, cheek to cheek.”

As military families, we represent the United States of America; and through our exposure and embracing of many world cultures, we have a greater appreciation of people who live outside our bases and posts—and as a big, extended Service family, our mobile, global lifestyle is another bond we all share.

Happy holidays!

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(Circe Olson Woessner is the Executive Director of the Museum of the American Military Family & Learning Center. The museum collects the stories of military families of all branches and generations to preserve their heritage, record its evolution and share their experiences.)