This Fourth of July weekend, as we prepare to celebrate America’s independence, let’s especially recognize all the military families who serve and sacrifice to keep our country strong and free. A big salute to them, as I too know what it’s like to support a deployed loved one.
Here’s what it was like for me:
When I was a little girl, my father, who was a high-ranking ofﬁcer, pilot, and an avionics specialist in the United States military, would hoist me up onto the elevator – the ﬂight control surface located at the tail of his airplane.
From up there I could get a glimpse of the world as he saw it. Always eager for an even better view, I wanted time in the cockpit too. That required special permission, which wasn’t often granted, but my dad would share his perspective with me in other ways.
We’d have enlightening conversations every opportunity we could get. We’d discuss life and the military values he had learned to apply to its many challenges.
Today, as a breaking news anchor, I sometimes feel as if I’m back on the elevator of that plane, looking at the world and events as they unfold around me. I’ve assumed some of the role my father played, trying to convey the details, importance, and meaning of these events to my viewers.
From where I sit now, I see people strained by the rapid rate of social change. Technology has made our lives both more efﬁcient and more demanding.
I see people squeezed by the shifting economies, not only by disappearing jobs, but by disappearing industries. I see people’s morals and values being tested too. I also see that many have fallen out of meaningful dialogue with people of differing viewpoints.
Because the military exists to deal with challenging situations, so much of what they teach our troops about achieving success in trying times applies to us civilians trying to succeed in these times.
n this climate, I ﬁnd myself returning to the touchstones of my youth, realizing more clearly just how lucky I was to grow up as the daughter of a lieutenant colonel. Because the military exists to deal with challenging situations, so much of what they teach our troops about achieving success in trying times applies to us civilians trying to succeed in these times.
I may not have served myself, but I grew up witnessing service, and it was perhaps my most foundational experience.
For a little background, I’m what’s called a brat in military circles. It’s an endearing term used to describe the children of ofﬁcers and is actually an acronym for Born Raised And Transferred, which describes my early days perfectly.
My mother gave birth to me at Fort McPherson in Atlanta, Georgia. A short while later we were living in Stuttgart, Germany.
We relocated several more times after that to various cities and military outposts before I ﬁnally ventured to college in Santa Barbara, California.
Being given the honorary rank of brat is the armed services’ way of saying thank you to us kids for having grit too. They understand that when one member of a family joins the military, the whole family bears the weight of their service.
We sacriﬁce time with that parent while they are deployed; we move wherever our loved one is needed; we uproot our lives; we leave our friends behind; and we start all over again with a supportive and positive attitude because it helps our loved one do his or her job effectively and return home to us safely.
We are also expected to have much of the same discipline as our commissioned parent has, because we are considered a reﬂection of their ability to lead.
Although the connotation of the word brat, as it’s used by the general public, isn’t ﬂattering, I think I was “spoiled” in the best of ways.
I got to travel to some pretty awesome places, learn other people’s customs, and see what works in their world differently than in ours.
I also got to witness our troops returning from battles won and lost, and to hear some of the thinking that led to victory and some of the thinking that ultimately helped formulate better strategies from the lessons of defeat.
I am forever grateful for the lessons learned from growing up Brat! To honor the military families serving our nation this Fourth of July I have three words for you: gratitude and love.
Adapted from Harris Faulkner’s bestselling book, “9 Rules of Engagement A Military Brat’s Guide to Life and Success.” Copyright 2018 by Harris Faulkner. Published with permission from Harper Books and HarperCollins Publishers.