“Strangers are just friends waiting to happen.” I do not know who said it first but it encapsulates the life of an Armed Forces BRAT!
Remember when you were a kid and you were insulted to be called a brat. Well, there is a whole culture of people in Canada who are proud to be called brat. They are the Armed Forces Brats (Borne, Raised And Transferred Somewhere).
Membership in this exclusive club is not difficult to achieve. It merely requires one or both of your parents to be members of the Canadian Armed Forces. (Or for those of my generation, members of the Air Force, Army or Navy!)
I remember my childhood in detail, but I cannot remember, with some exceptions, the names of the kids I went to school with and played with. Those memories still exist but need to be dragged forward. Check out Paul Dalby’s grade 8 class (photo on the left) in Trenton for example. Thirty-eight 13 year olds with raging hormones. (Now that’s a class size!)
Enter the World Wide Web. I was surfing the other day and came across a newsgroup named can.military-brats. To my amazement I actually recognized the name of one of the posters as someone I knew over 40 years ago. Since that time I have made connection with 5 or 6 people whom I had lost over the years. And I am sure that more friendships will be re-established over time.
One web site, http://www.milbrats.net, lists over 1000 resumes of Brats looking for their friends.
Brats are generally easy to pick out in a crowd. They made friends very quickly. They join activities without hesitation. But at the same time, they demand personal space on occasion.
If you are an Air Force Brat, you can recognize every aircraft ever flown in Canada because you went to 5 billion air shows (and you still like to go to them!).
If you were anything like me, you drew pictures of airplanes (usually CF-86’s, if you had any taste at all!) in every school book you used.
I read on one of the many Brat sites that, of the many ways, the best way to recognize a Brat was:
- he was the kid who graduated from grade 12 in his 13th different school
- she was the kid who could describe, first hand, most every country you were studying in geography class
- he would get a funny look on their face when asked about his “home” town
- she would answer the “home town” question with: “Where are we now?”
- she could concentrate on reading the cereal box when an low-flying airplane screamed overhead because: “I was brought up with the noise.”.
To all those 5 or 10,000 Brats I played with over the years. Hi! Long time no see.
In 2002 the Trenton Air Base Little Champs of 1960 got together to “play ball” just like the old days. Below there are photos of the guys in 1960 and 2002. How little has changed!
As a special treat for all you Brats who lived in Trenton, below is a photograph taken of the base before the grass fields gave way to paved runways (circa ~1940). If you look closely there is a Tiger Moth in front of Hanger 2!. Between 1939 and 1945, Trenton was the most important Commonwealth Training Base in the British Empire. More than 131,000 aircrew were trained there including almost 50,000 pilots.
I am a Military Brat
My hometown is nowhere, my friends are everywhere.
I grew up with the knowledge that home is where the heart is
and the family….
Mobility is my way of life.
Some would wonder about roots, yet they are as deep and strong
as the mighty oak. I sink them quickly, absorbing all an area offers
and hopefully, giving enrichment in return.
Travel has taught me to be open.
Shaking hands with the universe, I find brotherhood in all men.
Farewells are never easy.
Yet, even in sorrow comes strength and ability to face tomorrow
with anticipation….if when we leave one place,
I feel that half my world is left behind. I also know that
the other half is waiting to be met.
Friendships are formed in hours and kept for decades.
I will never grow up with someone, but I will mature with many.
Be it inevitable that paths part, there is constant hope
that they will meet again.
Love of country, respect and pride
fill my being when our flag passes in review.
When I stand to honor that flag, so also do I stand in honor of all
soldiers, and most especially, to the parents whose life created mine
Because of this, I have shared in the rich heritage of Military life.
Do you recognize anyone in this picture? If so send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org with the identity.