I can’t remember a time before being a military brat. When I was born, my father was working as a Navy recruiter at the University of Illinois. I was the only one of my sisters to be born in a non-military hospital. My sister was born at Chanute AFB (now closed). Shortly after she was born, we moved to Hawaii.
My father was gone on ship 10 months out of the year, but thank goodness I don’t remember that part. My little sister would often forget who he was, and mom would have to show her pictures and say, “That’s daddy,” until she remembered. I don’t know what the housing is like now, but then, it was horrible. Cockroaches the size of your hand, and geckos that were impossible to get rid of. I started school in Hawaii.
I wish every school I’ve been to since could have been as relaxed. I don’t remember wearing shoes to school, and we were a stone’s throw away from the water. It was wonderful. I never got to see the Arizona memorial, and I was never allowed on my father’s ship. Children weren’t allowed at the Arizona Memorial, and girls were not allowed on ships. Boy have things changed!
I’m not sure these rules still exist, but I’d like to visit Pearl Harbor again, just to see what I missed. The first day we were there, I remember my mom saying that she couldn’t imagine such a peaceful place being destroyed so viciously.
We moved from Hawaii to Charleston, S.C. This is one of the most beautiful places in the United States. I went to a small private school, St. John’s, that has since been closed. This is the only time we lived off base – the wait for housing was almost a year.
After Charleston we moved to Washington, DC, at Bolling AFB. I can’t describe the awe and excitement that comes with living in such a powerful city. Our house was just across the Potomac River from the National Airport.
We were so close, in fact, that flying kites was prohibited in our neighborhood. We lived there for three years, and I still want to go back to see all the things I missed the first time around.
It is my firm belief that every American should visit the Vietnam Memorial at least once in his or her life. The experience is completely unforgettable and emotionally moving. And I don’t personally know anyone listed!
After DC we moved to a small town on the coast of North Carolina. The only thing there is a military base, Cherry Point. This was the only Marine Corps base I’ve ever lived on. Is it just me, or are Marine Corps bases just a little different from the rest? This is where we were stationed during the Gulf War. I had never been on a base during such a tension filled time.
The base just shut itself up for a month. School buses were periodically searched, and you couldn’t go anywhere without an ID. And very often, you needed your sponsor in addition.
I strongly feel that Military Brats understand what it means to be American, more than other young people. Maybe its because we know what our parents risk for the country.
Maybe its because we have seen first hand how other countries live. I know that I get misty-eyed at a good rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.
I think we understand better how lucky we are to have been born in the United States. The freedoms we have here are incredible compared to other countries. And military brats, I think, understand better how important it is tp preserve those freedoms we all to often take for granted.