Honolulu Lite


Wednesday, July 25, 2001

Wichita goes over
like a lead balloon
with this brat

Once a (military) brat always a brat. I had mixed feelings when I heard someone was creating an official "home town" for all the thousands of self-described "military brats" out there.

I was excited at first, imagining some inspirational park in Washington, D.C., somewhere between the Vietnam Memorial and the upcoming World War II memorial. Not that military brats have contributed as much to the country as actual veterans. But let me tell you, war is hell on the home front too, baby. When my dad, an Air Force pilot, went to Vietnam in 1968, my mom was left to deal with three military brats and we more than lived up to our moniker.

But being a military brat is no picnic either. They have to learn to deal with a disjointed life, whipped in and out of schools several times a year and moving halfway across the world on a general's whim. In Africa I was considered a foreigner. In Georgia I was the weird kid who spoke Arabic. In Nebraska I was a Rebel and in Alabama I was a Yankee. When we came to Hawaii, I thought I'd finally be neutral. Yeah, right, haole.

So, yeah, it would be cool to have a place for military brats to call their own, but then I found out the American Overseas Historical Park was going to be in built in Wichita, Kan., and my reaction was typically military brat-like. Wichita? Kansas? Not someplace cool like Washington, D.C. or Florida or California or even Hawaii? I'm sure Wichita is a great place to live as far as Kansas goes but any military brat can think of many better places to hang out.

Hawaii has more military brats per yard than Kansas ever will, not to mention more active duty personnel and retirees. The reason military families retire in Hawaii is because they were forced to live in places like Wichita. It has no ocean (ergo, no surf). It has snow in the winter and godawful heat in the summer and tornados the rest of the time.

Unfortunately, it's too late to propose that the military brat memorial be built in Hawaii. On the military brat registration Web site ( a lot of brats seemed pretty happy with the Wichita plans.

It was on that site that I also learned that the official flower of military brats is the dandelion. The dandelion? Sure, it's got a fierce will to live and is pretty in a sort of Susan B. Anthony way. But it's a weed and damn nuisance and people with yards spend a great deal of their time trying to poison dandelions. Why couldn't they have picked something more inspirational like the pineapple (prickly yet tasty) or the Silver Sword (fragile yet dignified) or the coconut tree (tall and strong yet kind of nutty)?

Which brings us to the essential problem of military brats. Although there's a lot of them (54,698 registered at alone) they are spread all over the world and resist organizing. That allowed a small band of Midwest brats to pick Wichita as the "home town" for all military brats.

It won't do. I propose West Coast and Pacific Rim military brats unite and establish Hawaii as the official home for all military brats. I don't have time to actually help in forming the thing. But I promise my full philosophical support.

Alo-Ha! Friday compiles odd bits of news from Hawaii
and the world to get your weekend off to an entertaining start.
Charles Memminger also writes Honolulu Lite Mondays,
Wednesdays and Sundays. Send ideas to him at the
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 7-210,
Honolulu 96813, phone 235-6490 or e-mail

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