by Andrea Scott
What is all this crap about being close-minded? I recently got back into contact with a pal of mine from grade school on the popular My Space website. She and I have been friends since seventh grade, which is generally unheard of with the constant moving around. We lost touch for a little while, but since talking to her online, I realized how different our experience as military brats is compared to civilian kids growing up. Our school had maybe 200 students ranging from seventh grade to twelfth grade. We knew everything about each other and sometimes that was good and sometimes that was bad. As you can guess, I was a raging "brat" unlike my friend who was more sensible.
Still, our experiences, I find, have made us more open-minded, at least for those of us who took the experience and learned from it. Growing up in Europe allows for the safety of experimentation without danger. Before you go getting any ideas, what I mean is that the crime rate is considerably less in Europe. I never worried about kidnappings or rapes. I always had to worry about pick-pocketers, but generally speaking we were safe to roam wherever we wanted.
Our field trips from school were to concentration camps, which sounds morbid, but was eye opening. My friend and I actually met a concentration camp prisoner who was visiting the graves of her family. She was a prisoner as a young girl and escaped. She came onto our bus and spoke with us for a little while. I was touched at the time and still thinking about her makes me cry.
I'm crying now…
Several of us on that bus began to cry. We were only in seventh grade at the time. We were extremely petty but at that moment it changed, at least briefly. When she was our age this woman was a prisoner of a horrible effort of ethnic cleansing. On that bus alone we had at least five different ethnicities represented. She came out of it though and was able to go back year after year to that horrible place to visit her family. Talk about strength.
What we learned that day and throughout growing up is that we were petty, but who isn't? We realize, however, that as petty as we were back then, our lives were ultimately changed by being military brats. We were forced to leave our friends more often than most children our age, and we were also forced to accept each other. We had to sometimes live without a parent when that parent went to war. We got to experience a culture unlike our own. Open-mindedness is born through experience. I think my friend would agree.
I admit when I sat down to write this article, I didn't think it would come out like this, but I'm happy with the message. I have taken my smart-ass hat off for the day. I generally stay away from stuff like this in my writing because everyone has a belief and their beliefs define them. When we begin to hate people for their beliefs, we close the door to all the possibilities of love. So no matter what you believe, accept those around you because we are all in this together. On Thanksgiving this year, be thankful for freedom, acceptance, and those you cherish most everyday, your family.
Andrea put her smart-ass hat back on as soon as she finished writing this.
Open-mindedness is born through experience. I think my friend would agree.
Well I agree with you
Posted by: the turtle | November 21, 2006 1:04 AM
We went to Dachau several times when I was in school and it never failed to make me feel like I'd been kicked in the stomach. It's the only place I've ever been that had that kind of impact on me.
Posted by: thefinn | November 21, 2006 9:26 AM
I know what you mean Finn. Even at Anne Franks house it felt that way. All that hate causes a sort of stain.
Posted by: Andrea | November 21, 2006 3:14 PM
Hehe...we all know you had to put your smart-ass hat back on ;) Love ya!
Posted by: Letitia | November 21, 2006 3:37 PM
What you wrote was beautiful, and so true. I'm so happy to have gotten back in touch and to have the honor of reliving these memories through your eyes. I couldn't agree more that the experiences we had played such a huge role in shaping who we are now. At the time I don't think we had any idea how lucky we were, but I definitely think we do now. And I agree that exploring genocide and the Holocaust in middle school forced us to become more aware, empathetic and informed. Thanks so much for reminding me of our experiences, and why I've always like you so much! :)
And you were NEVER a "brat".
Posted by: Alison | November 22, 2006 9:33 PM