We often talk about the places we lived and what we experienced, but in this letter, Pete gives thanks to the U.S. Army who made his Military Brat experience possible.
The author would like to thank Stefanie Penland for her editing expertise.
22 September, 2010
Dear United States Army:
I have often heard stories of wealthy, affluent teens having opportunities to study abroad or even take a year after graduating to travel the world to “find themselves.” As fate might have it, I was born into a family of modest means with a young father and even younger mother, in rural Georgia.
Yet, amazingly, I was given many of those same opportunities at a much younger age as I was an Army Brat. I studied at schools on base or in DOD schools in Georgia, North Carolina, Washington DC, Alabama, and Northern Germany.
I have traveled to the Eiffel tower in Paris, the Gateway to the west in St Louis, the Lincoln Memorial in our nation’s capital, and the ancient cathedrals in Trier. I have personally seen the Mona Lisa, camped in the Black Forest, stood at the Berlin wall guarded by armed communist soldiers before its destruction, seen the snow covered Alps of Switzerland, and witnessed a funeral procession in Arlington National Cemetery.
While I ‘found myself,’ I was learning new languages, rapidly adjusting to new cultures and environments, and meeting new friends from around the world. I went to the DYA, participated in neighborhood clean-ups, and helped Mom clear quarters. I celebrated Dad’s promotions, witnessed the true meaning of discipline, respect and sacrifice and learned how to grow together as a close family and community when all you have are each other.
I just want to thank you for all the opportunities and experiences you provided me. While I never wore the uniform, thank you for helping me become the man I am today.
Retired Master Sgt. Willis’ son
Proud Army Brat,
L. Pete Willis