Shanon Hyde, Student Liaison, is a Marine Corp brat and a student at Pennsylvania State University, majoring in Aerospace Engineering. From 2016-2019 he attended Kubasaki High School in Okinawa, Japan and was the President of his Junior class. While living in Okinawa, he had the opportunity to travel to several different countries, learning about different cultures and worldviews. In May of 2020 he graduated from Mooresville High School in Mooresville, North Carolina. In August of 2020, he started The Shanon Show podcast, which allows him to connect with military brats and share their stories on the internet. Shanon is committed to shedding a light on the issues that student brats face when transitioning to college, career, and life. In his free time, Shanon loves to make homemade sausage and watch Adam Sandler movies.
In a year that has been full of change and challenges, I’d like to share with you some of the successes that the museum has had, despite having been closed for nine months.
- We received a generous grant from the Griffinhart Foundation to develop a curriculum to accompany SHOUT! The curriculum was developed by professors from San Francisco State University and Truman College, Chicago, and will “go live” in 2021. (SHOUT! is a play, an anthology—and soon to be a full-length film.)
- We published two anthologies: Brat Time Stories: A Book for Nocturnal Brats and On Freedom’s Frontier: Life on the Fulda Gap.
- We created personalized video tours of Operation Footlocker-one for a public school district in Illinois; the other for the Defense Department Schools. We also developed some virtual curriculum for DoDEA 4thgraders, using stories submitted by generations of military “brats.”
- We created a virtual exhibit about the University of Maryland Munich Campus which opened in late September.
- We started audio and video podcasting on our MAMF Media podcast, and offer a wide variety of programs. We presented several virtual poetry workshops with Tacoma Poet Laureate Abby Murray.
- Our East Mountain Collaborative partnered with many entities to provide relevant programming on suicide prevention, addiction resources, stress management and home-schooling tips. We also explored news sources and discussed how to recognize “fake” and trusted sources. All of these are viewable at militaryfamilymuseum.podbean.com
- We received an Award of Excellence from the American Association for State and Local History. It is our second such award in as many years. In 2018, we also received the AASLH prestigious Albert B. Corey prize for our innovativeness.
- We were careful stewards of our resources, and through the generosity of our community and some CARES Act funding, we have made it through this year and are optimistic that next year will be better. We will restart our capital campaign towards a building purchase.
- Through the year, our collections have continued to grow with new artifacts acquisition, so we have purchased museum cataloging software. Once we get the “go-ahead” to reopen, we will begin to inventory and catalog our collection.
So, while 2020 has pushed all of to our limits, it has made us, as an organization, learn to be more flexible, run leaner, and think way out of the box.
So, What’s the plan for 2021?
- Our collaborative is planning several video programs—in January we will present “So You Want to Write a Book—Now What?”
- We are collecting stories for a special anthology celebrating 75 years of DoDEA—if you have a memory or two about attending DoD schools, we’d like to include it in the book.
- We will be reworking a 30-year-old original children’s book manuscript, “My Momma Wears Army Boots”
- SHOUT is slated to be performed in Los Angeles and Providence and will be made into a full-length film.
- We will begin a very comprehensive project looking at gender, race, identity, religion and culture in military/families.
- Our podcast will continue to grow and evolve as we add more interviews, stories and programs.
- We may even unveil a new exhibit!
We hope that these programs are of interest to you, and you participate as applicable.
Also: Our museum is looking for several volunteer board members/liaisons to join our team. If you’d like to help grow our award-winning museum, further its mission of preserving and curating military family history, please email us at email@example.com. Please tell us why you’d like to serve on the board, your skill sets and what you envision your role as a team member could be. Even though we are in New Mexico, several of our board members live elsewhere.
When we are permitted to reopen, please know that our board/docents have taken the New Mexico Covid Certification training so that our visitors and volunteers are as safe as possible.
We look forward to hosting you-virtually and in person!
Dr. Circe Olson Woessner, Founder & Director MAMF
If you’re planning to visit us, please make an appointment 24 hours in advance, and if you can’t come visit in person, check out our blogs and podcasts or follow us on Facebook. View one of our many blogs, like https://weservedtoo.wordpress.com, our podcast at https://militaryfamilymuseum.podbean.com and our website, https://militaryfamilymuseum.org
In order to keep you and us safe, your hosts will have taken New Mexico’s Covid-Safe Training.
Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen.
As we continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, I would like to take a moment to issue a proclamation proclaiming November as Veterans and Military Families Month in New Mexico.
I urge all veterans and eligible dependents of veterans to make sure you’ve filed for your eligible VA or state veterans’ benefits—or to ensure your benefits are up to date. These are benefits you’ve earned through your service for our country, and I want to make sure you are receiving everything you’ve earned. Please contact the New Mexico Department of Veterans Services for help with this filing process.
New Mexico Dept. of Veterans Services
Office of the Cabinet Secretary
406 Don Gaspar Ave.
Santa Fe, NM 87501
Attn: Ray Seva (505) 362-6089
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One of the things military families tell me when they visit our museum is that they miss the life they left behind when they left the service. That life, of course, means different things to different people, but sometimes it’s quite clear that they are looking back nostalgically to what author and historian Mary Edwards Wertsch calls “life inside the fortress.”
The “fortress” refers to a military installation where families work, live, shop, and play inside the installation’s perimeter fence. Living and working in such close proximity creates a very tight-knit community. While this community is comprised of very different individuals with very different perspectives, these individuals are bound together by a common purpose: the mission.
On an installation, at 5 o’clock pm, everything comes to a stop as the National Anthem plays over a loudspeaker. Children stop playing, cars come to a halt, and anyone walking outside comes to a stop. At 5 o’clock everyone faces the flag and places their hand over their heart or, if in uniform, salutes. The National Anthem also is played in installation movie theatres, and the audience stands at attention prior to viewing the feature.
There is a sense of pride and duty that comes with being a military family, and living on an installation requires a modicum of discipline: yards must be kept to a certain standard, children mustn’t run amok, rules must be followed.
One Air Force daughter says, “I grew up knowing that I was a child ambassador representing the United States, the Air Force, and my immediate family.While living overseas and learning new customs and meeting new people, I represented the best of the United States.”
I grew up in Germany knowing that what I did reflected on my parents. If I did something wrong, people would tell them, and there would be Dire Consequences. Luckily, I was a pretty good kid, and the only dire consequence which happened was after my father received a letter from the Post Commander reprimanding him for allowing me to have 36 overdue library books. I was banned from the library for six months.
All people who have left this lifestyle, whether they liked it or not, have stories to tell.
Spouses often reminisce about living in base housing. They acknowledge the lack of privacy, but they also point out the great connections they built. Living in stairwells or in the close quarters of a military installation, means that the adults keep an eye on the kids, everybody knows everybody’s business, and one can’t really “escape the busyness” of the military tempo.
Shannon remembers life on Holloman Air Base during the Vietnam War. She describes when a jeep pulled up to her quarters. “I watched from the window as they walked up to the house. They spoke to my mom for a few minutes and then mom came in. I remember holding my breath (we knew what this meant). She said, ‘I need you and your brother to go next door and stay there until I get back.’ We didn’t ask questions, we went…It wasn’t until years later that mom talked about it though. She told me that she was going to the houses of wives that were being told their husbands were not coming back. She hated the task, but she said she would be damned if those women were going to face that time alone.”
Even as times have changed, the conflicts are different, more spouses work, and life doesn’t solely revolve around the installation, military spouses still look out for one another.
Sometimes it’s in social media groups like Facebook, where someone might post “We’re moving to base soon, which pediatric dentist in town do you recommend”? Or, “There are two black-and-white dogs running down my street, does anyone know who they belong to?” Or, “Can anyone look after my toddler while I run to the commissary for an hour?”
As our lives get busier and increasingly more isolated, we don’t have as much face-to-face contact with our neighbors as we used to, and small social media groups can be very helpful in bringing people together, building connections, and sharing information.
Adult brats often say that they can sense another brat, even in a crowd of strangers. Brats are drawn to each other because of their shared experiences. That happened to me just the other day at an East Mountain Regional Chamber of Commerce meeting. As I introduced myself to my tablemates, the man sitting to my left mentioned he was a brat. A little later, a woman came up to me and told me she was a brat as well. Instant community!
As military families, we are used to moving into and out of communities each time we PCS (move) even while yearning for a permanent “home” someday. “Home is where the heart is” is an oft-quoted platitude–people are the heart of our communities, and communities are what draw people to them when they’re deciding where to settle.
Our neighborhood is small, and when my husband and I are out walking our dog, our neighbors wave as they drive by. We recently got together for a neighborhood New Year’s Eve party, and via Facebook and cell phone, we keep each other informed if we notice anything out-of-the ordinary. It’s nice to have human connections.
Small communities are special. That’s one reason we chose to locate our museum in Tijeras—next to Molly’s Bar, because we wanted to be a part of a small, lively town and part of Route 66’s continuing history. We love the mountains, the folks who come and go from Molly’s, the tourists who are cruising the Mother Road, and the East Mountains’ unique vibe. People are neighborly here; they have time to visit a little. They offer to help someone out. They leave little painted rocks on our museum doorstep.
We hope our museum will become an increasingly important part of the business and tourism ecosystem here, and that as we grow and expand, we can meet many more of our East Mountain neighbors. Stop by the museum for a bit, let’s share a story and get to know each other!
(Circe Olson Woessner is the executive director of the Museum of the American Military Family & Learning Center. The museum collects and preserves the stories of military families of all branches and generations. The museum is located at 546B Highway 333, Tijeras.)