The concept for the BratPin began in December 2009 when I contacted my US Congressman, Bob Latta (R/OH), and asked him why America’s Military Brats have never been recognized for their – for our – service to our nation. I was inspired to ask this question by Pat Conroy’s observations in his Introduction to Mary Edwards Wertsch’s book, “Military Brats: Legacies of Childhood Inside the Fortress.” He noted:
“We are an undiscovered nation living invisibly in the body politic of this country.” He went on to say, “We’d never stopped to honor ourselves, out loud, for our understanding service to America.”
Then he said, “Our greatest tragedy is that we don’t know each other.” Oh, how so true!
Toward the end of his Introduction Conroy says, “…military brats, my lost tribe, spent their entire youth in the service to this country, and no one even knew we were there.” Well, why not?
I bought Mary’s book in the mid-1990s, and over the years, I kept coming back to Conroy’s Introduction. As I continued to read it, over and over again, these statements began to resonate ever louder in my soul – and I became evermore restless with them.
Then I began paying attention to the Brats on TV – at military unit deployments, at returns, and upon occasion, at funerals. Through the pomp and ceremony I focused in on the kids. I saw and felt their fears, their hurts, their insecurities and yes, upon occasion, their joys! (I just love those videos of Moms and Dads surprising their kids with early returns!) Then, in mid-December 2009, I got mad. Why in Hell hasn’t this country recognized these kids for their service to our country? Congress has recognized just about everyone else! So I shot off an email to Bob Latta asking the question. Five hours later, I received a call from one of his ‘horse-holders’ (staff) asking more about my idea.
In March 2011 Bob reintroduced the bill as HR 1014, same title. That bill sat “in committee” for 2 years before dying. That’s progress I suppose…
Finally, in May 2013, Mr. Latta once again reintroduced the proposed legislation as HR 1889 – and today, 17 September 2013, it languishes “in committee.”
Because it was going nowhere fast, I decided in early April 2013 to ‘do something’ every day, to promote HR 1889. First I enlisted the help of a couple friends to create a YouTube video to create an awareness of HR 1889 and garner support. After our first filming session, the interviewer asked, “Don’t you think 3 and a half years of sitting in committee isn’t a bit ‘disrespectful’ to these kids? You bet your bippy I do!
Then he asked, “Why don’t you just do it yourself?” That simple question touched my “inner Brat!”
So I thought, “Why not?” I figured if I waited for Congress to act, I’d receive mine posthumously!
If the bill passes, it will then have to go to the Army’s Department of Heraldry for design. I can only imagine what those guys would come up for us! So, taking this project on myself became even more appealing.
I then joined a couple-3 FaceBook groups and began soliciting ideas. The response and support was exciting (and humbling) as ideas began flowing. Brats! Ya gotta love ’em!
From the outset my vision for the pin was for it to be, ‘simple, yet elegant.’ I wanted something easily recognizable that whispered “Brat” instead of shouting it.
Early on I came across the dandelion as an icon representing Military Brats. Turns out it is the official flower of Military Brats. I wasn’t “shot-in-the-head” with the concept at first, but the more I thought about it, the more sense it made to me. Then I stumbled upon this piece:
The Military Child
“The official flower of the military child is the dandelion. Why? The plant puts down roots almost anywhere, and it’s almost impossible to destroy. It’s an unpretentious plant, yet good looking. It’s a survivor in a broad range of climates. Military children bloom everywhere the wind carries them. They are hardy and upright. Their roots are strong, cultivated deeply in the culture of the military, planted swiftly and surely. They’re ready to fly in the breezes that take them to new adventures, new lands and new friends.
Experts say that military children are well-rounded, culturally aware, tolerant, and extremely resilient. Military children have learned from an early age that home is where their hearts are, that a good friend can be found in every corner of the world and in every color, and that education doesn’t only come from school. They live history. They learn that to survive means to adapt, that the door that closes one chapter of their life opens to a new and exciting adventure full of new friends and new experiences.” ~ Anonymous
…and it all started coming together.
Simple, yet elegant. I wanted a dandelion showing the seeds as they begin to leave the ‘puff ball.’ I thought this would symbolize us as we leave our Military childhoods. Some leave, others remain behind for a while. Might even look upon it as a graduating senior class – scattering to the winds.
Then a Brat suggested using a ‘dog tag’ chain as the border! How cool is this? So, in the end, we came up with this, the BratPin! Simple, yet elegant. Visit The BratPin Store to purchase yours.