Tuesday, October 20, 2009
BRATS are all around us . . .
Yesterday at the nearby Firestone store, one of the mechanics struck up a conversation with me. As conversations go, it meandered, and lo and behold, it turns out he was a BRAT! And, in my world, that is not a bad thing, but a very, very good thing. BRATS are children of soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marines who grew up in the military, often living on bases or posts or forts either here or in other countries. BRATS make up 5% of our American population.
The Firestone mechanic, a handsome man in his late 30s or maybe early 40's, told me his family basically moved every two years. First, his dad was a Marine, but he left that and joined the Army and became a Ranger. This guy lived in Germany, Italy, the States, and ended up in Puerto Rico, where he completed school and his dad got a civilian job related to the military, as so many do. He named all the former bases and schools in Puerto Rico and I told him I'd been there on a business trip for DoDDS/AVID in 2002. We reminisced a bit about Puerto Rico . . .
But this scene happens fairly often! The shampoo girl at Vidal Sassoon was a BRAT, living most of her life in Germany. So was a teenager on the street in Decatur who gave us directions. Numerous people I've met online are BRATS. So is one of the trainers at the gym. Quite a few of the new, younger teachers in DoDDS are BRATS. They want to come back! My kids are always running into them, too.
There is a wonderful documentary about BRATS called BRATS: Our Journey Home, that is narrated by famous BRAT/singer Kris Kristofferson. It's a poignant and moving film that cannot fail to have an impact on the viewer. I have shown it to my students, bought copies for my family, and shared it with my colleagues. Even friends with no attachment at all to the military have been moved by this film. It is still being shown in special showings in cities around the USA, but you can also buy a copy on the site above.
BRATS are a very special part of my life. I have spent twenty years teaching them, loving them, and saying goodbye to them. Facebook has become a wonderful way to stay in touch with this special group of individuals. One point made in the film is that not only is dad (or mom) in the military, the whole family is. That creates kids and then adults with very special characteristics (see link above) who go on to serve their country and humanity in much higher proportions than the average American graduate. Thank God for BRATS.