1. You’ve stood for the national anthem at a movie theater.
As well as during that awkward moment when you stand up just to find off-base theaters don’t play it. (I recommend playing it off as a quick stretch.)
2. You stop for Retreat and Evening Colors.
Remember cruising around a military base around 4:00-5:00 pm and everything grinding to a complete halt as “Retreat” bugled over the loudspeakers? Even cars stopped! Don’t forget Reveille at 7:30 am and Taps at around 9:00 pm.
3. High school graduation ceremonies on-base are like a military version of the NFL draft.
As many graduating brats follow in their parents’ footsteps and enlist after high school, each student’s plans to join a particular branch are greeted with a deafening chorus of “Oorahs!” “Hooahs” or “HUAs”. The shouting gets louder with each new graduate.
4. You never quite know how to answer the question, “Where are you from?”
Since you’re always moving, you never really know if you should answer with where you were born, where you lived most recently, or where you’ve lived that’s most important to you. For many brats, home is often more of a feeling than a place.
5. You know firsthand how small the world really is.
Once you’ve met a brat, you never know when you’ll run into them again. Just about every brat has a story about running into an old friend or acquaintance at an airport, a different base or duty station, at a new school, or even on vacation!
6. You have an instant connection with other brats.
The similarities of growing up across the different branches of service gives us a welcome population of other brats to commiserate with, compare duty stations, and discuss the merits of each branch. *cough* Go Navy, Beat Army!
7. Your 10th birthday meant your very own ID.
Ah, the Military ID: a golden ticket to the joys of base living. At the age of ten, this magnificent card of power became yours to wield. From then on, the card never left your possession lest you lose privileges like shopping at the Base Exchange or Commissary, or worse, find yourself stuck off-base!
8. You memorized your Sponsor’s Social Security Number at a very young age.
Emblazoned upon your ID card alongside height, weight and eye color, are you and your sponsor’s social security number. I knew my dad’s SSN as early as 6 (I still remember it) and had mine memorized by 8.
9. You’ve experienced the Little America that is on-base living.
The Commissary: America’s way of thanking it’s military personnel for their hard work and service to the country. American products at competitive prices even overseas! Many bases also have partnerships with fast food chains and other restaurants to provide other comforts of home. As a spoiled teenager, being able to get my Cinnamon Toast Crunch all the way in Okinawa Japan, taught me just how great America really is.
10. You value diversity.
Something that constantly comes up in discussions between my brat friends and I is the profound impact of meeting people from so many different cultures, races, and ethnicities. For many, the military is the melting pot of America’s melting pot.