Life of a Military Family On The Move
I grew up as the eldest of five children, in a military family. My father was career Navy, which meant we moved a lot! I have limitless memories of our life together and want to share some of my life experiences. My thought is not to outline my years line by line, but to elaborate on some interesting focal points of the life of a military family!
People who never move have their memories centered around one house, one home. As a child who moved every two or three years, sometimes more, I have memories of a different house and neighborhood with every new duty station. I remember the cul-de-sac at five in Florida and the ranch house in Rhode Island, just around the corner from the the two story we built during my elementary school years! The woods behind this house became our playground and we wandered through its paths without worry or concern. One path led to the elementary school I attended for four years. I can't forget the one story house in Alabama where I had to share a room with a brother for a year!
I was rescued from this peril of sharing my room with another when we received new military orders during my junior high days to the DC suburbs. Our dwelling was a two story cape cod house. Here again I had my own space. Much to my horror, when the relatives came to visit, they stayed in my room and I was relinquished to the tiny den sofa. In ninth grade, we moved to a large home in South Texas. It had more than enough room for our large family of seven. In my senior year, we moved back up to the beautiful state of Rhode Island and rented a large two story split level home on a hill with a view of the water in the distance. A cornfield sat directly behind us and the school bus drove us down country lanes to our daily destination.
Houses Were Our History
As you have probably noticed, I have identified my years with houses. Needless to say, when we revisit an area, we always drive by the former house and assess its present condition! To visit a former residence is to revisit many memories and remembrances!
At each departure, the moving van arrived and packed up all of our belongings. Three days of packing provided a house filled to the ceiling with boxes. Delicate items were individually wrapped by experienced movers. As the movers loaded the large moving van, we prepared to pile into the car to motor to our next destination, the next adventure. There were always lots of questions to be answered about schools, our new house, and the climate.
There are also school teachers and classmates that stir special memories in various locales. My second grade teacher in Rhode Island was a male. He had a sweet nature about him and I had a crush on him at seven years of age. I learned to spell with excellence that year because I wanted to please my teacher. In sixth grade in Alabama, my teacher was very strict. She made sure that we all excelled to the best of our ability. The classroom routine changed on Friday afternoons. The desks were pushed back against the walls and the class learned to square dance. My dancing partner was usually Freddy, a classmate with dark hair and lots of freckles!
Our military relocations were usually made in the summer. My Dad seemed to have free time after a move. Most of our relatives lived in the southeast part of the country, so we usually drove to Florida on our way to the next tour of duty. At these times, I felt homeless. Our belongings were on a truck somewhere on the road and we were wandering from relative to relative on vacation. There was an excitement when we finally arrived at our new residence and walked through the house to find our own room! We were home. When the truck pulled up to unload our belongings, the new place began to feel like home.
There were other military families in similar circumstances of transition. As families, we had dinners together and grew to know each other over time. I remember many summer gatherings where the kids laughed and played outside for hours while the adults were inside visiting. As we relocated from assignment to assignment, we often reunited with some of the families we had met years before. They became old friends!
Many of our military friends were stationed overseas for at least one tour of duty! We were always assigned in the United States because of the size of our family. I think that the most children you could have and be assigned overseas was four. We had our clan of five!
My fondest memories are from my senior year of High School! Yes, we moved back to Rhode Island after my junior year of High School. Remember that house by the cornfield? It was one of my favorite locales. There were two other Navy brats in my situation that year, both girls. We all started our Senior year as new students. The three of us became the "three musketeers" for the first few months of the school year. The other students were so friendly and made us feel right at home. The transition turned out to be an extremely easy one.
What did I miss by moving so often? At the time, I felt that others were missing some adventures that I was able to experience because of my moves. Today, after over thirty years in one town, I know that my early years prepared me to handle change well, to make friends easily, to love travel and seeing new places, to be an adaptable individual on the job and in my home life!
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Mental Health in the Service
There are many branches of service with families who are impacted by the military life including the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force. They all have stories to tell about their adventures in the service of our country. Let's encourage them in their journey and uphold them in our communities! Thanks for all you do! I understand where you are coming from!