|My Handsome Dad|
You see, my dad was a career Army man, so I grew up immersed in the world of soldiers and all things military. Base housing, military schools, the PX (Post Exchange), the Commissary (grocery store), MPs (Military Police), military IDs, moving every 1-3 years, making friends and leaving them, standing and listening to the Star Spangled Banner at the theater before the feature movie, epic 4th of July celebrations, security checkpoints to get on base, and seeing my dad in uniform almost every day of the week.
Growing up military was a mixed blessing. But overall it was pretty awesome.
My brother and I both agree on that. We didn't know any other way of life. As military "brats" we got to do and see a lot of things that most children never get to. We lived in many different parts of the country and even in Europe. I was born in Frankfurt, Germany and we lived there for several years, so I actually have some memories of it. I remember our apartment building and I remember my Oma, a lovely German grandmother who would babysit us and help my mom when she needed it. We also lived in Italy and I remember going to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa and Venice. In the states we were stationed in California, Virginia, Georgia, Maryland, Kansas, and Washington.
My favorite place we ever lived was Ft. Meade, Maryland. Although when we first stepped off the plane and felt the extreme humidity in the air, I wasn't so sure I would like it! We were coming from California and I had never felt that feeling before. Humid summers aside, it was a great place to live with so much to see and do. Historical towns, battlefields, museums, and of course Washington D.C. was right next door. We'd go there almost every weekend in the summer and there was always something new to see.
Friendships are made easily and quickly in the military. Everyone is in the same boat--new place, new people. Most folks were friendly and eager to make the new place their home. However, that was also one of the draw-backs. We made good friends, but then everyone moved away. We got used to leaving people behind, but it was still difficult. I so wanted to stay with my friends forever and grow up with them. But instead, we had to pack up and move to a new home and go to a new school.
My least favorite place was Ft. Lewis, WA because they had no schools on base, so my brother and I had to go to a civilian school. That was difficult because the civilian kids had grown up together and weren't eager to let new people into their groups. All us military kids kind of stuck together. It took a long time to make new friends and feel like we belonged.
|Our base housing at Ft. Lewis.|
That was the last place we were stationed. My dad retired and my parents bought a house and remained in Tacoma for awhile. Now they are happily settled in Oregon. After high school, I left for college in California and am still here. My brother joined the Marines and then the Army (just like Dad), but left the military after the first Iraq war. Thankfully, he did not have to fight in that war. He also lives in California, not far from me.
Though mom and dad are settled, they still have a strong love for travel and are lucky enough to do so often. Me, not so much. I guess I had my fill, and now I prefer to stay in one place.
The military life shaped and formed us all in many ways. There was a camaraderie amongst us that I have not experienced since. Military friends are always your friends. My parents have stayed in touch with many of their old friends, and they have had several reunions. Since Facebook came on the scene, I have found a couple of my childhood buddies and it has been really fun to catch up with them.
I feel lucky to have grown up the way I did. Thank you, Mom and Dad, for giving us a unique and wonderful childhood.
Thank you to all those who are serving our country. Your way of life allows us to have our way of life. You are much appreciated.
This song is for all those old friends....