Guest posts are always welcome. Please send submissions for consideration to firstname.lastname@example.org - - - - - We are now supported by advertisers! - - - - - There are NO popup ads. - - - - - Please turn off you ad blocker for this site and check out the ads that catch your interest. Clicking on the wheel opens a new window.
What a fun week Isaura and I had in Huntsville,
Alabama with all of our Overseas Brats friends.
Every year there is a reunion of folks who
sometime in the past attended a Department of Defense (DoD) school somewhere
around the world as children of a military parent. They are known as Military
Brats. In 1986, Joe Condrill and several other Brats decided to have a reunion
with those “kids” they had known previously. It has only grown since then as
more Brats are located. To attend such a reunion is a combination of American
history dating back to 1946 and world geography writ large.
Two of the Brats in attendance this week were in
their teens when they traveled to a foreign land with their parents in 1946.
Class sizes in the DoD schools were as small as five kids! Many of the schools
were located on military bases within the United States. But the places around
the world where other schools are located would be a challenge for the most
knowledgeable geography professor. There are 133 schools represented. Many
Brats attended more than one DoD school as kids. Let’s see, there’s Ankara,
Turkey; Bad Aibling, Germany; Bushy Park, London, England; Chateauroux, France;
Dreux, France; Garmisch, Germany; Jonathan M. Wainwright, Tainan, Taiwan;
Kaiserslautern, Germany; Kobe, Panama; Lajes, Portugal; Machinato, Okinawa;
Oslo, Norway; Salzburg, Austria; Tehran American School, Iran; Wheelus, Libya;
Yoyogi, Japan; Zaragoza, Spain, to name a few.
The shared experience Brats have bonds them with
each other for life. We may not have attended the same schools at the same
time, but the challenge of being dropped into a new place, often a new country,
language, and culture, causes you to grow in ways you simply could not
experience in any other way. My sister Joy and I attended the junior high
school at the Oslo American School in Oslo, Norway. At the same time, our
brother John, attended high school in Dreux, France.
A different location is chosen each year for our
gathering. Next year we’ll be in Fort Worth, Texas. But I have to tell you: If
you’ve never been to Huntsville, Alabama, you should make every effort to come
here. The people are very friendly, the city is full of history going back to
the Revolutionary War.
Our time at each gathering always includes
sight-seeing trips in the local area, which often includes a dinner at some
This year, however, brought a twist to our local
visits. Friday evening, we were to attend a performance at the Mark C. Smith
Concert Hall next door to our hotel. However, plans were changed because
President Trump was arriving in Huntsville to lend support to a congressman
running in a special election, so the concert hall was taken over for the
rally. We heard the anti-Trumpers shouting, and then the pro-Trumpers shouting
down the anti-Trumpers. The place was packed to capacity (seats 5,000), and
there were apparently several thousand more supporters outside. The badges
which were made for us so we could enter the concert hall were stamped:
CANCELLED due to a visit from the President of the United States.
The time we spend together catching up with each
other and what has taken place in the intervening years is special. We really
do feel a sense of family when we come together.
Because those of us who attended the Oslo
American School are known as the Vikings, on the last evening together we
always wear our Viking paraphernalia. I bring out my imitation Viking helmet
replete with horns, plus I wield a plastic, life-sized Hammer of Thor. The
twenty of us representing the school present quite a
scene as we arrive all attired in Nordic costumes. We comprise the largest
group from any one school, so Vikings Rule! But otherwise, we’re harmless.
Roots in Ripon - Author Chuck Roots
At the end of three days, there has been a vast
amount of talking and sharing, with promises to see one another again the next
year, Lord willing. It is not at all unusual for tears to flow as we say
goodbye yet again, but leaving having been refreshed by the renewed
Many of us are in our twilight years, so each
year together is special. Many of our number are no longer with us. It is our
hope to pass the baton of our reunions to the next generation of Brats.
For many of us, these were the best years we
experienced growing up. Next August, we’ll drag out our Viking helmets and
Nordic stuff and gleefully descend on Fort Worth, Texas to join the host of
other Brats who are our Brat Family.