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.
(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.)
Dr. Allen Dale Olson
MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN MILITARY FAMILY & LEARNING CENTER (MAMF) LOCATES AT BATAAN MILITARY ACADEMY (BMA)
Groups Call Move a “Good Fit”
Albuquerque, NM – An Albuquerque charter school has just joined forces with the only museum in the country dedicated to the collection and preservation of the stories, documents, and artifacts of America’s military families. Both the Bataan Military Academy Charter School (BMA) and the Museum of the American Military Family (MAMF) have moved into 5555 McLeod Boulevard NE, Albuquerque.
BMA serves grades nine through twelve, meets U.S. Navy standards in curriculum and in Naval sciences, including standards in physical fitness and in honoring traditional Naval standards. The school is in partnership with parents, teachers, military organizations, and with the military services. Principal, “Captain” Jan Zink, works closely with the Academy’s Board of Governors, chaired by Dr. Alan Holmquist.
BMA students are cadets grouped as in a military organization and follow the rank structure of the Navy Junior Reserve Officer Corps (NJROTC). In addition to traditional high school activities and sports, BMA cadets also form color guards, drill teams, and rifle teams. The school is named for the 70,000 soldiers and sailors forced to surrender on Luzon in 1942, some 70,000 of whom died during the infamous “Bataan Death March.” Many of those who died were from New Mexico. Annually BMA cadets simulate that march in a 26-mile hike at White Sands Proving Grounds.
MAMF, founded four years ago by Dr. Circe Olson Woessner, a DoD “Brat,” an Army wife and an Army mother, has been active throughout Albuquerque– even without a facility– by presenting documentary film programs, stage performances, military ceremonies and major exhibits in various venues, including the National Nuclear Museum, the South Broadway Cultural Center, the International Balloon Museum, and the Wheels Museum.
MAMF’s volunteer Board of Directors includes an Artist-in-Residence, a Writer-in Residence, and liaison chairs to military spouses, military organizations, “Brats” and Veterans’ organizations. Its programs reach throughout the country through its Operation Footlocker, mobile exhibits which go to public schools, nursing homes, USO events, and to reunions of former students of Defense Department schools. MAMF is a 501 c 3 not for profit.
MAMF has a partnership with the American Overseas Schools Historical Society which represents thousands of former teachers and administrators in the Defense Department world-wide school system and with “Overseas Brats,” representing thousands of adult military “Brats.”
Till this semester, BMA had been on Mountain Road in Albuquerque, and MAMF existed as an on-line presence. In the McLeod facility, MAMF occupies the second floor; BMA the ground floor. Both Captain Zink and Executive Director Woessner believe the shared home makes a “good fit” for the school and the museum. They agree that the MAMF library, archives, exhibits, and historical folios of military family life are valuable resources for the cadets, who in turn, provide ceremonial support for MAMF programs.
The Museum is open by appointment only.
For additional information, visit:
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Exhibit on Department of Defense Schools Worldwide Brings Back Memories for Military Families Who Were Stationed AbroadPosted: July 28, 2015
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEContact: Dr. Allen Dale OlsonPhone 505-400-3849 email@example.com|
Exhibit on Department of Defense Schools Worldwide Brings Back Memories
for Military Families Who Were Stationed Abroad
ALBUQUERQUE, NM, July 27, 2015—A special exhibit at the Special Collections Library’s Botts Hall chronicles the experiences of families who were based in locations around the world: Military families whose children might attend five or more schools by the time they graduated from high school.
“Schooling with Uncle Sam,” is focused on the history of the 181 schools for military dependents located in the U.S. Spread from the Far and Middle East to Western Europe. Self-titled “Military BRATS,” the children of military families, from lowest to highest ranks, attend Department of Defense Education Agency Schools and build strong ties and cherished memories through their varied experiences.
|The exhibit features comments from dozens of students, teachers and parents remarking on their experiences during various tours of duty—which involved the whole family. “Together We Serve” is the tagline of the Museum of the American Military Family and Learning Center, an organization whose mission is to bring together people with shared experiences showcasing and honoring those who also served–America’s Military Families. Artifacts from school experiences provided by those who attended or taught at DODEA schools bring the story home to the many retired military and BRATS who live in our area, as well as those who did not serve in the military, but want to learn more about the experience of those who do.|
The new exhibit includes detailed information about the history and growth of the schools, anecdotes from students who attended them, and a host of artifacts that include: a 1948 report card; teachers’ guides; books on learning to speak, write and sing in the language of their new home; school flags and pennants; posters; school photos; yearbooks; athletic jackets and trophies; a high school diploma; a bison head that was worn by the varsity mascot at the Mannheim, Germany high school; a statement from General Colin Powell, US Army, Ret.; and much more. Many of the artifacts in the exhibit are provided by the American Overseas Schools Historical Society (AOSHS), based in Wichita, Kansas.
“Schooling with Uncle Sam” is free to the public and available at the Special Collections Library, 423 Central Avenue NE (corner of Central and Edith). The library is open from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, except for Thursdays, when it opens at 11 a.m. and closes at 7 p.m. Please stop by and learn more about how children of military families received excellent education in places around the world thanks to “Uncle Sam.” To access the exhibit, please check in at the library’s Information Desk. The exhibition closes on August 22.
The Museum of the American Military Family and Learning Center (MAMF) collects and preserves the stories, experiences, documents, photos, and artifacts of the mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, spouses, siblings, and others who have loved and supported a member of America’s military services from Revolutionary War times to modern times. MAMF is an all-volunteer not-for-profit online entity in quest of a permanent home in Albuquerque and is launching a capital campaign to support that quest.
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After years of looking, the Museum of the American Military Family has found a great building in a perfect location in Albuquerque, NM.
It will cost around $220,000 to buy. With your support, we can create a physical museum dedicated to our unique culture.
Your tax deductible contribution in any amount will help us continue to:
- Honor America’s Military Families
- Share their stories
- Preserve their legacies
- Recognize the countless men, women and children who stand beside America’s Service Members
We are a 501c3 nonprofit with an all-volunteer Board. Your support will be acknowledged in the museum building.
It will take all of us to create this unique museum–we appreciate your support!
please donate here:
Whereas, since 1986, Army installations around the world recognize the sacrifices and applaud the courage of military children by celebrating the Month of the Military Child throughout the month of April; and
Whereas, each day, military children undergo unique challenges, which they face with resilience and dignity beyond their years; and
Whereas, it is essential to recognize that military children make significant contributions to the country while dealing with uncertainty and concern for their parents during extended hours and long deployments; and
Whereas, the high demand of Family responsibility that military children accept takes courage and strength as they serve the Nation along with their parents; and
Whereas, our men and women in uniform cannot focus on the missions or challenges ahead if they are concerned about their children at home; and
Whereas, the Army strives to provide a safe, nurturing environment for military children to enable a stronger and more resilient fighting force; and
Whereas, the Month of the Military Child reinforces this concept, reminds the nation that the service members’ children also serve, and gives communities an opportunity to share their gratitude for the service of military children; and
Now, therefore, we hereby join the nation in honoring our military children throughout the month of April.
John M. McHugh Secretary of the Army
Gen. Raymond T. Odierno Army chief of staff
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey Sergeant Major of the Army
Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better [person]. Benjamin Franklin
We at the Museum of the American Military Family would like to thank all of you who have helped us have a successful and wonderful year. We appreciate your kind words, support and participation! We look forward to a great 2015–
Some highlights from MAMF’s very busy 2014:
-Screened the Documentary Brown Babies at the South Broadway Cultural Center in Albuquerque, NM
Created two aprons for display as part of the Womyn’s Work Apron Project in Albuquerque
May through September
Exhibit: Sacrifice & Service: The American Military Family at the National Nuclear Museum (seen by 17, 116 visitors)
Activities as part of the exhibit: Read the rest of this entry »
On November 15, 2014, the Museum of the American Military Family, the City of Albuquerque , ChoppHearse, the Albuquerque Balloon Museum, and dozens of other organizations and groups collaborated on a “Salute to Our Heroes”. It was an amazing event.
The event started off with a motorcade and a flag line. Museum visitors joined cadets from several JROTC and ROTC units, the Young Marines and Bataan Military Academy. Distinguished guests from the National Guard, the City of Albuquerque and Service Organizations joined the procession into the Balloon Museum, where Director Sandor Cohen welcomed them, saying,
“WE ARE TRULY HONORED TO BE HERE TODAY AS PART OF A VERY SPECIAL OCCASION THAT PAYS TRIBUTE TO OUR BELOVED VETERANS – DEFENDERS OF OUR FREEDM – AND TO SUPPORT A VERY SPECIAL NEW MUSEUM IN THE ALBUQUERQUE AREA THAT NOT ONLY HONORS THE HEROES IN OUR MILITARY…BUT THAT ALSO TELLS THE STORY OF THEIR FAMILIES AND LOVED ONES, WHO EQUALLY EXEMPLIFY THAT SAME SENSE OF DUTY AND SACRIFICE AND LOVE OF COUNTRY THAT WE FIND IN THOSE WHO SERVE.”
As part of the program, there was a very moving flag folding ceremony followed by MAMF Director, Circe Olson Woessner accepting the flag, and reminding the audience,
“…So when celebrating Veterans Day, we should remember all of our Veterans, by thanking them for their service, listening to their stories…welcoming them home, but we also need to remember the ones who have died without ever telling their stories, the ones who are living in poverty on the streets, the ones that have no family or are being honored by strangers. Today, we specially honor them and welcome them to our family. ” Read the rest of this entry »