Tijeras, NM – “Pandemic or not, permanent home or not, we’ve made it through eleven years,” said Dr. Circe Olson Woessner, Founder and Director of the Museum of the American Military Family (MAMF). “We’ve won national awards, published books, produced documentary films and a play, conducted classes and workshops, book and film discussion programs, and lived our goal to honor military families and preserve their legacies while sharing their stories and educating the public.”
Woessner says she is grateful to the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History for hosting MAMF’s first-ever exhibit. “In fact,” Woessner says, “the Nuclear staff taught us how to be a museum. We were just a handful of educators, civil servants, and military veterans none of whom had had any museum experience.”
On March 23rd that early connection continues with an exhibit of information panels about women inventors in honor of Women’s History Month done in cooperation with the Nuclear Museum. “Even though we’re a small volunteer organization,” she says, “we manage to host rotating exhibits on various subjects and maintain permanent exhibits on what it’s like to be a military kid or a military spouse and the experience of working in or attending schools in the world-wide Defense Department School system.”
This year, MAMF would like military-connected families from all over to send a birthday greeting or postcard to the museum, sharing a short military memory for its “Postcard Project” collection. Over the decade, the museum has collected hundreds of postcards, each telling a short memory about military/family life—memories of WWII to the present.
MAMF maintains a special collections library which includes folios of first-hand stories by military veterans and family members going back to World War I and has artifacts collected by teachers and military family members from all parts of the world. Woessner explains that MAMF has been fortunate to have support from “New Mexico Arts, the New Mexico Endowment for the Humanities, the American Association for State and Local History, and many donors and friends.”
MAMF publications and social media outlets proclaim the museum’s values – to welcome everyone regardless of age, ancestry, disability, national or ethnic origin, race, religious belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, political belief, or veteran status.
Birthday greetings and postcards can be mailed to MAMF at 546B State Hwy 333, Tijeras, NM 87059
An anthology of first-hand stories by teachers and students who experienced the DoDEA school system around the world during the years from 1946 to the present has recently launched on Amazon and copies have been mailed to the 58 author-contributors to the book so they will have them in time for the October observance of DoDEA’s 75th anniversary.
Schooling With Uncle Sam was compiled by Circe Olson Woessner and Allen Dale Olson, a father-daughter team with a combined total of 70 years of affiliation with the schools known today as DoDEA (Department of Defense Education Activity). Includes a Foreword by DoDEA Director, Tom Brady, and artwork by Joan Olson and information from the museum’s schools exhibit.
The anthology presents nearly100 first-hand stories and comments in a 346-page anthology by former teachers and students with experience in the world-wide K-12 school system operated by the Department of Defense since the end of World War II for the children of U.S. military personnel.
DoDEA will launch a press release and an anniversary web page on October 12th to commemorate the opening of the first schools in Germany, Japan, and Austria. Throughout the rest of the school year, they will roll out print and digital products to call attention to this special anniversary. Follow the DoDEA webpage to find links to organizations such as ours, to the anthology, and to the history and legacy of people and events that have helped preserve DoDEA history.
SCHOOLING WITH UNCLE SAM not only tells the history of the system but also opens windows on what it really is like to teach in or attend a typical American school on a military installation overseas. There are laughter and thrills, smiles and fears, adventure and tranquility highlighting the unique relationships among teachers and students.
Some early reviews read:
“It is after midnight and I’m sitting in easy chair reading the wonderful stories/memories written in this book… enjoyed 36 glorious years with DODEA. I miss those days. Thank u for giving all of us a time to reflect on our own experiences and relish reading the stories of others!”
“My copy came yesterday and I stayed up all night reading it! Wonderful, wonderful stories by such fabulous people! Thank you to everyone for sharing your memories! ❤️❤️❤️”
To buy the book, please click
The play SHOUT! was inspired by Inner Voices, a story written by Army veteran Theresa Duke for the Museum of the American Military Family’s anthology, SHOUT! Sharing Our Truth: An Anthology of Writing by LGBT Veterans and Family Members of the U.S. Military Services. Lora Beldon, the 2017-2019 museum Artist-in-Residence and museum Director Circe Olson Woessner co-edited the anthology.
Inner Voices had exceptionally compelling dialogue and Beldon and Woessner agreed the story would translate well on stage. Playwright Melissa Rayford seamlessly wove together multiple stories contributed by service members, military spouses, brats and allies into a strong, thought-provoking and poignant piece.
Beldon says, “Shared stories help build and define our identity…help communities learn from each other. People who haven’t experienced what LGBTQ veterans or their families have, can better understand and learn about the subculture through the play.”
In 2018, SHOUT! and the museum’s companion exhibit Still Shouting – Memories from Inside the Closet received the American Association for State and Local History’s prestigious Albert B. Corey Award, gaining national recognition for the museum.
SHOUT! debuted in Richmond, VA, on September 22, 2019 and received positive reviews.
Rayford, who also directed the Richmond performance said, “It is our hope…that we create a production to be used by any theatre group wishing to produce this subject matter.”
While the 2020-2021 Covid pandemic sidelined further stage performances, it did not stop Beldon and Woessner from collaborating with Dr Deborah Cohler (San Francisco State University) and Dr. Erica Chu (Truman College) to create educational materials based on LGBTQ and military history and stories in the script to help enhance the audience experience and to provide further education by facilitating post-play discussion.
In December 2020, Los Angeles based director, Herb Hall led nine actors in a virtual reading of SHOUT!.Navy veteran Kayt Peck reviewed the online reading saying,
“I applaud the Museum of the American Military Family in their efforts to acknowledge LGBTQ service members, especially those who spent years, even decades serving in silence, protecting a country that did not recognize them as worthy citizens. This remains a dedicated mission for the Museum even as Covid makes live theatre an impossibility.
“SHOUT! accomplishes a critical need by making discussion of gays in the military not simply a discussion of a concept but also showing the impacts on real people and acknowledging the talents and dedication of LGBTQ service members. Those talents help make the military the efficient and effective component of society that it can and must be.”
Hall will be directing a virtual one-day matinee performance of SHOUT! on June 27, 2021 at 2 PM PDT. The museum board and cast are raising funds to cover expenses through a dedicated fundraising platform.
Air Force Spouse Aimee Hanebeck, one of the many volunteers working tirelessly to ensure the play moves forward says,
“This is an important work of theater and a source of great pride for the museum to have curated the stories for the play. In this innovative time of a post-Covid exposed world, artists have found ways to bring their craft to their audience, and as such, SHOUT! will be available in an online performance.
We would like to invite you to be a part of this project. As a nonprofit, the museum is sustained entirely by donations from patrons. In order to uphold the dignity of this script, we have set a goal to fairly compensate the actors and staff, record the performance, and make it available for greater circulation and for use in academic and corporate settings.”
Volunteers have set up a dedicated Fundly account, and anyone who contributes to it will receive a link to the June 27th performance.
The museum is a 501c3 all-volunteer non-profit located in Tijeras, New Mexico, seven miles east of Albuquerque. Visit the museum’s webpage to learn more about SHOUT!
Military Museum in Tijeras, NM Celebrates 10th Anniversary with Call for Stories from Military Families
by Erica Asmus-Otero
The Museum of the American Military Family (MAMF), located in Tijeras, New Mexico – is celebrating its 10th anniversary in March 2021.
In celebration of the anniversary, the museum is asking military families, both active and retired, to submit a memory to the MAMF about their military service on a postcard or birthday card.
“We want to connect with families through their stories and cards but cannot have a big celebration out of an abundance of caution with the pandemic,” said museum founder and military family member, Circe Woessner.
Founded in 2011, the MAMF collects, preserves and displays memorabilia and nostalgic stories donated by military families, providing ongoing support through podcasts, books, and other mediums.
“Many Americans don’t understand the sacrifices that the families of service men and women make – how many times their families are uprooted, have to assimilate with new cultures and customs, make and lose friends, and change schools or jobs on a regular basis,” said Woessner. “The MAMF brings to life the stories of these families through their memorabilia, while providing a support network of families who can truly relate with the many challenges and emotions we’ve all experienced.”
Postcard and birthday cards will be accepted throughout the month of March and will be carefully curated in a commemorative 10th anniversary album and posted on the museum’s Facebook page: @MuseumoftheAmericanMilitaryFamily. Birthday greetings can be sent directly to: MAMF 546B State Highway 333 Tijeras, NM 87059.
TOPIC: ID CARDS
Everyone associated with the military has got to have an ID card memory! Turning 10 and getting your first one, losing your ID and dealing with that, nostalgically holding on to it long after it expired, the awful picture that could be just about anyone, trying to buy alcohol and being told it didn’t “count..” During the month of March, we want to share your ID Card story!
In your essay, written in first person, please describe to us your most memorable ID card moment/s.
- Essays must be no more than 800 words.
- Please include your name and phone number along with your essay submission.
The first 4 entries will receive a patch or pin donated by Military Brat Seal, and the first-place winner will receive a “goody box” of awesome prizes. If you’ve submitted a story in a contest before—that’s okay!
All entries will be posted on FB and in one, or more, of our blogs. All submissions must be emailed to us at email@example.com.