Happy Military Brats Day!

I’m working on the final proofreading of the Museum of the American Military Family’s book, E Pluribus Unum: GRAICE Under Pressure (Gender, Religion, rAce, Identity, Culture, and Ethnicity in the Military/Family.) As one of two Writers-in-Residence for the museum, I have been heavily involved with this book since January of 2021. You can learn more about the museum here.

I just got my grubby hands on the proof. Oh my. I am so proud to be a part of this project. The book is chock full of essays (11 of them are mine), photos, and quotes from survey responses that gave the book structure. The survey respondents ranged from age 9 to 92. There is even a statistical analysis and report from two anthropologists. We did it proud!

The first essay I wrote was on Identity. I also made it into a digital story which you can watch now.

The walk down Memory Lane that I took while writing my essays was by far the best time I had while experiencing the Long COVID symptom of extreme fatigue. I tired very easily and slept a lot. I had dream after dream of my deceased father, my childhood, and my experiences of the GRAICES.

That walk and a promise I made to myself finally spurred me on to begin writing a memoir based on my experiences as a brat during the Vietnam War. The memoir is a labor of love and tears. I’m referring to it as a collage–it will hold traditional memoir fare, but also short stories and poetry I have written, excerpts from my father’s letters home during his four tours as well as parts from his memoir, Expendables: Vietnam Memoir. There may even be a recipe or two.

My identity is all kinds of wrapped around my experience as a military brat. In one of my essays, I ponder how it was that the first 14 years of my life so marked me that all these years later (I’m 62), I still think of myself as a military brat.

E Pluribus Unum: GRAICE Under Pressure will be printed soon and available for purchase.

I have eight more months left in my term as Writer-in-Residence and we are already underway with the next project. I hope it proves to be as much fun as this one. I would happily serve another two-year term, but I don’t think it works like that.

1701 Lawrence

I watched this when it was broadcast on The Johnny Cash Show — about 1969. Good memories.

Three of the most important years of my life were spent on a Marine Corps Base in Hawaii. I was 7 when we moved there in 1967. 

We lived on the main road into officer’s housing just across the street from the Officer’s Club golf course. Our yard was sometimes littered with stray golf balls if the foursome at the hole closest to us had too much to drink or were just novice golfers.

It was a small 3-bedroom ranch on a corner lot. Outside my bedroom window was a palm tree that would drop coconuts on the roof, sometimes startling me out of a sound sleep.

There was no need for insulation in Hawaii. If you hammered a nail into a wall and then removed it, daylight would stream through the hole. It was military housing and nail holes were pretty much forbidden. They were too much of a bother to fix to pass housing inspection when transfer orders were received. You didn’t just pack up and leave military housing.   The house had to be squeaky clean from top to bottom. Many women had a side gig cleaning houses with a guarantee of passing inspection.

There was also no need for air conditioning most of the time. The windows were all thrown open to the island breezes. We had an extended carport with a covered patio – the patio was called a lanai. My mother, and my father too if he were home, would sit on the lanai and watch the children play on the communal playground just beyond our backyard.

I racked up some hours on the swing set and merry-go-round.

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