The End Game

What happens when we leave our Military Brat life behind us?

“All along the watchtower, princes kept the view” -Bob Dylan

I was looking at the splattered dust outside my window today when it hit me. I was like some kind of Pipi Longstockings going to the fair when I turned in my orange and white ID card to the guard shack at the front gate of Davis-Monthan AFB. I handed over my precious past to the grinning guard in green fatigues, neither one realizing that this was the last sounding of the death knell of my youth.

No one ever told me about this hidden right of passage. It is snake-like in its knowing, still and harmless as it waits for the right moment to unleash its wound like a deep dark secret. Stronger in my broken places, I was looking for my future, ready to embrace life in a heady youth.

Today, many of my former communities are now unsightly; desolate places. The high guard towers point at an empty sky, their scowling silhouettes softened by rowdy nests of shrieking birds. Sandbags have rotted away in grimy ditches and the shimmering light of day dances in what were once protected rooms. Warehouses that were bursting with stores lay barren surrounded with weathered whitewashed rocks.

Motorpools heavy and low with lethal profiles of armored vehicles sit vacant save for a few desolate and twisted weeds. The leathered, oily smells are long since vanquished by the breezes of time. Sections of the high perimeter wall have deteriorated and dropped into disordered heaps of brickwork. They have met their demise – exhausted of the throbbing rhythm of men and machinery that made her so powerful. The only sounds are the sorrowful squeals of metal roofs beating out lonely staccatos in their wastelands.

Maybe if I had been equipped with some iota I could have known that this inevitable day would come. I have long since raised my children and procured a home since my displacement. I can’t help but wonder what it will be like when the door closes on this chapter in this isolation from my military birthright. An unwilling sacrfice of my homeland in exchange for the rights of a civilian.

Will my sacrifice allow fathers and mothers to be able to raise their children to be strong and proud? Will I have left our world a better and brighter place for having been here? Every fiber of my being wants this to be tangible; it would justify the palpable price I have paid in the sorrows of leaving behind yet another friend, another school.

Three moves equals a fire, most of us intuitively appreciate that phrase as soon as we read it. So here we are, living among the natives never really knowing if we are awakened to their detectable presence.

My surroundings have absorbed me for some thirty odd years now and today I realized that my father had the most selfish reason for wishing that this would all come to pass for me. He simply hoped to raise a child that would not have to fight another war in this land of the free, home of the brave.

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  1. Is that really what you think that your father was thinking?  It sounds so romantic and I hope it is true for you.  Do you believe we, as brats, are a pool of gifts and talents untapped?  I do.

  2. Well, I think most soldiers have this idea in the back of their heads somewhere. At least that is what I eventually have come to think, maybe as a way to explain what has happened to me. Absolutely, I agree that we are a pool of gifts and talents, untapped.  Thank you for such a thought provoking comment 🙂

  3. It certainly is true that most folks in the military are the ones LEAST wanting to fight a war…but they chose to, so that others won’t have to.

    As for those Brats coming up now, I think we owe them a sense of how to move forward and to cope with their growing up in a world quite different from others that they’ll encounter.  We Brats are resilient to change (comes from moving all of the time, or of having others around us move away), easy to assimilate into whatever environment we’re thrown into, make friends easily (but best friends are ones that are hardest to hang onto, and we do so fiercely) and come at the world with a much more global perspective than others we’ll meet. 

    Being a Brat forever shapes who we are.  Many of us have seen the world from a vastly different set of eyes than most Americans.  As such, we are not immune to how the rest of the world sees us, and can generally appreciate outside views of current events.  Having said that, we are also patriotic almost to a fault, as we’ve seen firsthand the sacrifices that our parents made in order to voluntarily serve our country.  We’ve lived in (near) substandard housing, had to make do without household goods for weeks/months on end, and had our happy little worlds ripped apart on a fairly regular basis. 

    So yes, we are a unique collective of people who’s talents and gifts that were molded and crafted from years moving from post to post has gone untapped.  And it is my belief that more than anything, we who have gone before owe those that are moving through this stage in life the direction and mentoring needed to face the “nexts” that will come their way.

    • James Kidd,

      A big huge YES!!  We, somebody owes the ones to come the ones behind us support as they face moving thru the membrane between the life we know and the other one “out” there.  Its natural law…

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