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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
“The motto, E Pluribus Unum, means ‘out of many, one.’ The museum’s latest project E Pluribus Unum: GRAICE Under Pressure — gives title and substance to a newly-released multi-faceted study exploring if the many do indeed become one,” Dr. Circe Olson Woessner, Executive Director of the Museum of the American Military Family (MAMF) explains. “E Pluribus Unum: GRAICE under Pressure curates, in one volume, stories from hundreds of military-connected individuals based on their service experience seen through the lenses of GRAICE (Gender; Religion; rAce; Identity; Culture; and Ethnicity.).”
The 276-page book results from MAMF’s most ambitious undertaking to date. The museum team and the museum’s Veteran•Family•Community Collaborative used an anonymous survey and written essays to answer a series of questions based on a simple theme: How do MANY become ONE without losing ONESELF. “How,” Woessner asks, “do we unite in service and still keep our personhood?”
The “GRAICE Project” involved hundreds of people, including a team of university anthropologists who analyzed the data and sorted it into specific categories in line with topics in the book. In addition to the book, the museum will present a series of podcasts and social media stories.
The book contains art by Brandon Palma, a military brat artist, and compositions by the museum’s two Writers-in-Residence, Valerie Bonham Moon and Connie Kinsey, who wrote essays on single-word prompts. Woessner adds that “almost two dozen other military-connected authors aged 9 to 91 also wrote essays on the same topics –almost like chapter bookends– different generations and perspectives, and these varied voices tell their stories, the good, the bad, the in-between, and the truly awful!”
“During the first 14 years of my life,” Connie Kinsey says, “I had 24 home addresses and experienced things much different from my civilian counterparts. This project is a serious look at life in a military environment as experienced by Brats like me. The stories are heartwarming, thought-provoking, and insightful. This book should be read in small doses, picked up, set down, digested, and revisited.” Valerie Bonham Moon adds, “It’s also a professional analysis of contemporaneous social pressure that affects the people affiliated with the services.”
The project was grant-funded, in part, by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the New Mexico Humanities Council, and the McCune Foundation.
Woessner says that proceeds from this book and other MAMF publications help support the museum’s literary projects and residency programs. To buy a copy of E Pluribus Unum, please click the link:
The museum will be releasing E Pluribus Unum: GRAICE Under Pressure in late July 2022. This is part of a multimedia project exploring Gender, Religion, Race, Identity, Culture and Ethnicity in the military/family. In October 2022, look for the companion anthology to Schooling with Uncle Sam to be published. Host Nation Hospitality explores relationships and memories of life overseas. Additionally, the museum will launch its exhibit by the same name in late fall 2022.
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! ❤️❤️❤️”
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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!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 15, 2021
Military Family Museum in Tijeras, NM Reopens with Exhibit Honoring Children of Military Families
TIJERAS, NM—In honor of the “Month of the Military Child” in April, the Museum of the American Military Family (MAMF), located in Tijeras, NM, is featuring its “Military Kids Lives” permanent exhibit – a compilation of photos, documents and stories from those who grew up in the military, along with research from the nation’s leading subject matter experts. After over a year of being closed due to COVID restrictions, MAMF is now reopen Friday and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon and by appointment.
“As a child connected to the military, I understand first-hand the feeling of being 10 and old enough to get a military dependent ID card – a rite of passage, a passport to freedom, and the certainty that I was on my way to becoming a grown-up,” said MAMF founder and director, Circe Olson Woessner, ND. “MAMF connects people like myself who have had similar experiences, always living with the uncertainty of not knowing where you’d be in a year. It’s important for New Mexicans to understand the sacrifices military children also make. This exhibit provides stories with which you can connect and appreciate.”
As part of the exhibit, MAMF is also showcasing books by and for military children (“brats”). MAMF is asking former or current military brats to create a photo book of their life experience as a child which will become part of the exhibit.
The exhibit contrasts and compares the experiences of Hudson Philips, a brat in the 1930’s and 40’s, with those of author Bernard Lee (1950’s and 60’s) and Dwayne Dunn (1980’s and 90’s). Elva Resa Publishing House and Military Kids Lives Magazine are also featured on panels discussing their military child-centric publications.
Visitors can expect to see artifacts, clothing, and books donated by brats who grew up in military families – from Thailand to Texas, Norway to Libya, throughout Europe, the USA, and the Far East.
The exhibit is sponsored, in part, by Home Depot, Daisy BB guns, GCC, Rio Grande Credit Union and Chameleon Kids. Because MAMF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, we suggest a $3 per person admission fee.
Month of the Military Child was established in 1986 by Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger to recognize U.S. military children who have one or both parents serving in the armed forces. As part of that effort, April 30 is recognized as the official “National Military Brats Day.” It is estimated there are around around 15 million military brats in the U.S.
MAMF is NM Safe Certified for COVID-19 Safe Practices. All visitors must wear masks. Per public health orders, MAMF will operate at 33% capacity.
MAMF is located at 546B State Route 333, Tijeras, NM 87059, next to Molly’s Bar.