There is a book, “Military Brats: Legacies of Childhood Inside the Fortress,” by Mary Edwards Wertsch. It was written in 1991, and I bought it in the mid-1990s. I was an Air Force ‘Brat.’
It probably took me the better part of 5 years to just get through the Introduction, by Pat Conroy. While my experience was not exactly like his, it was so similar that I could feel the ‘pain’ as I read. At times it was unbearable. Finally, in 2009 I was able to read it in it’s entirety, and I got mad! I began wondering why our great Nation has never taken the time to recognize the Military Brats of America for our service to this country – they’ve recognized damn-near everyone else for a great deal less! So, I began an initiative to have Congress authorize a lapel pin for Military Brats – an initiative that has been “stonewalled” now for 3 years. But this is another subject I’ll address later. I want now to come back to Conroy’s Introduction, and relate my experience with it.
My mentor would kick my ass if I published the whole thing all at once, so I am breaking it down into paragraphs. This “thread” will now take the length it will take. And so now, unable to find any further “ados” around the house…
“I was born and raised on federal property. America itself paid all the costs for my birth and my mother’s long stay at the hospital. I was a military brat – one of America’s children in the profoundest sense – and I was guaranteed free medical care and subsidized food and housing until the day I finished college and had to turn in my ID card that granted me these rights and privileges. The sound of gunfire on rifle ranges strikes an authentic chord of home in me even now. My father was a fighter pilot in the United States Marine Corps and fought for his country in three wars. I grew up invisibly in the aviator’s house. We became quiet as bivalves at his approach and our lives were desperate and sad. But when the United States needed a fighter pilot, we did our best to provide one. Our contribution to the country was small, but so were we most of the time, and we gave all that we could.”
I wasn’t introduced to the military until Dear Ole Dad was recalled in 1950. We moved from Whitehouse, OH to Selfridge Field, MI – just “up the road.”
For the most part, I grew up with the sound of bomber engines in the background. They became the lullabies of my youth. B-47s, B-36s and B-52s. I never feared when one of those ‘big mothers’ roared overhead, even as a kid – I felt safe.
My dad was a Commissary Officer; kind of like a food store manager. Of note, his father ran a dry goods/grocery store here in Whitehouse for years. He never went off to other countries to fight – he brought his fighting into our house…