VIETNAM: A TALE OF TWO WARS
Linda VanZandt, award-winning oral historian recently relocated to Albuquerque, is excited to partner with the Museum of the American Military Family & Learning Center, to bring her multimedia Vietnam War exhibit to the museum (546B State Hwy 333, Tijeras, NM 87059) on April 30 from 1:30-5:00 p.m. The exhibit features sound portraits of Vietnamese Americans living on the Northern Gulf Coast of Mississippi and New Orleans – former allies of U.S. veterans and children of war, “boat people” who risked everything fleeing their homeland after the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, a date they commemorate as Black April.
While accompanying several American veterans on a trip back to South Vietnam in 2003, VanZandt witnessed first-hand the healing power of veterans and former allies meeting to share stories, some on the same battlefields where they fought.
After returning to her work at the Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage at The University of Southern Mississippi, VanZandt recorded more than forty Vietnamese-Americans’ stories of life in Vietnam, war, escape, and resettlement in America. VanZandt now shares a selection of these very personal and moving photos and excerpted audio stories publicly in an effort to give voice to the Vietnamese perspective of a history rarely heard. 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:
Attention New Mexicans, who are serving in the military, are military veterans, are members of a military family, and would like to write about your experience in that capacity…
Paul Zolbrod, Writer-in-Residence for the Albuquerque-based Museum of the American Military Family is seeking stories for its anthology “From the Front Line to the Home Front: New Mexicans Reflect on War.”
This anthology will include first-hand stories from all perspectives—service members, family members and friends who share their perspectives and experiences. Submissions can be about the recent Middle East campaigns, Vietnam, the Korean War era or World War II—and everything in between. All branches and ranks of the military should be represented.
How you can contribute:
Your story can be as long or as short as you choose. Just make it heartfelt, honest and interesting. We are looking for stories of trial and triumph and loss, stories that demonstrate the warmth and humor of military family life along with its inevitable tensions, offbeat stories that illustrate the variety that accompanies military life in war times–in other words– anything you want to tell of.
You don’t have to consider yourself an accomplished writer to participate. We will provide editorial services to sharpen your contribution.
The book will be arranged by stories of:
- Legacy & Aftermath
For more information or to submit a story, please e-mail Writer-in-Residence Paul Zolbrod at email@example.com.
The deadline for submissions is April 30, 2016. Tentative publication date is scheduled for the fall. All stories become part of the Museum of the American Military Family Special Collection Library.
Lazy days of summer? Not for the Volunteers of the Museum of the American Military Family. Two exhibits running simultaneously – “Schooling with Uncle Sam” at the Albuquerque Special Collections Library and “Sacrifice & Service” in the Wheels Museum at the historic Albuquerque Rail Yards. The “Schooling Exhibit” received world-wide press in the Stars and Stripes daily newspaper serving U.S. Forces wherever they are.
But summer was more than exhibit time. We found a home! On August 1 we moved our artifacts, archives, library, documents, records, furniture, and everything else into the Bataan Military Academy on McLeod Boulevard in Albuquerque. By the end of September, we should be fully set up and functioning from our own premises.
The move also strengthened our partnership with the American Overseas Schools Historical Society (AOSHS) who will send us part of their library and bricks and pavers and whose President, Gayle Vaughn-Wiles, will join our Advisory Council. AOSHS also provided publications and artifacts for the Schooling Exhibit.
Mid-summer set the stage for several upcoming events, as we met with staff members of the International Balloon Fiesta Museum and the Explora Childrens’ Museum to plan programs for the week of Veterans Day.
The Explora program will revolve around showings of the documentary film, “A Touch of Home – The Vietnam War’s Red Cross Girls,” popularly known as “Doughnut Dollies.” The Red Cross will bring us some local former “Dollies” to help with discussions about the film, and will bring along authentic Red Cross uniforms of the period to be modeled by students who will actually pass out doughnuts to visitors. Additionally, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department will display a Huey helicopter just like the ones the Doughnut Dollies knew in Vietnam.
Five of our Volunteers – Judy (and husband Ed), Elizabeth, Ernest, Larry (Wolfman), and Ole – staffed our information booth at the New Mexico State Fair and interacted with more than 100 curious visitors and coaxed a couple dozen postcard messages from some of them as part of the Postcard Project.
Judy and Circe, along with Barb, are taking the lead in creating an October 4th variety show in collaboration with Heels for Combat Boots and the 66 Pinup Girls as a fund-raiser in Albuquerque’s Sidewinders Bar.
Also in October – The Homeless Stand Down, where we’ll join forces with other groups to provide scarves, mittens, gloves, and other clothing items for homeless Veterans and their families.
So summer ends on a positive note of major events accomplished and major events on the horizon. MAMF has come a long way in just over three years!