The phrase “military brat” is one long associated with the family members of those in uniform. It can be used in a derogatory sense, but in recent decades the phrase has been used more to self-identify as being part of a military family.
Military Brats Day will be observed on Friday, April 30, 2021.
The connotations of being a military brat include the expectation that military families move often, may have difficulty setting down roots in any one area because of duty requirements, and the potential for extended stays overseas for the same reason. Military brats experience frequent school changes, make friends and acquaintances all over the world, and experience regular major life changes due to the shifting nature of military life.
Military Brats Day is a holiday created at the grassroots level and has been celebrated on April 30th since its inception.
According to a variety of sources, Military Brats, Inc. founded National Military Brats Day in 2016 and is part of a move to convince lawmakers to make the holiday a federally recognized one.
April is also the Month of the Military Child so it’s fitting that Americans should pay tribute to military families and military brats in particular at the end of the month.
Facts And Figures About Military Brats
- Military brats are described as those “who are or once were” the children of servicemembers.
- According to some publications, approximately one in 25 American citizens is part of a military family.
- There are differences of opinion but the rough estimate of the number of military brats runs as high as 15 million people.
- Military brats may attend between four and a dozen schools over a K-12 career averaging approximately two years in each location.
- Those who grew up on military bases overseas may not be able to access their childhood homes or other familiar places unless they join the military themselves or get “sponsored” by a military member for an on-base visit.
Origins Of The Term “Military Brat”
Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Michael M. Dunn wrote a blog post in 2011 making note of a book from 1921 attributing the origins of the term at least in part due to a British military acronym that stood for “British Regiment Attached Traveler” (BRAT).
This designation was given to families who were approved to accompany the servicemember to an overseas duty location. The story goes that eventually “BRAT” became synonymous with military children.
BRATs as they were known in British military culture were addressed in British Educational Research Journal, but another reference in British pop culture from the 1700s, a play called The Recruiting Officer could also lend a clue. It has lyrics that reference military and/or civilian “brats and wives.”
A Short History Of Military Brats Day
Military Brats, Inc. is the founding agency of Military Brats Day. Launched in 2016, at the time of this writing the holiday is unofficial, but Military Brats, Inc. is trying to convince Congress to “set aside a day to acknowledge just how precious these military children – present and past – are and to say thank you for their unmistakable sacrifice and service.”
The agency was able to get the holiday listed on the National Day Calendar official site, lending some weight to the request to make the day an official national holiday; the month of April is known as the Month of the Military Child, so it seemed fitting to the organizers of Military Brats Day to include their recognition of military children in the same month. Hence the celebration of these important military family members on April 30th each year.
Famous Military Brats
- Amy Adams
- Christina Aguilera
- Jessica Alba
- Ray Allen
- America (70s rock band)
- Harley Baldwin, developer and art dealer
- Jay Bell, MLB player
- Zack Bowman, NFL
- Janice Brown, United States Court of Appeals
- Valorie Burton, CNN
- Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games
- Chris Cooper, actor
- John Cornyn, U.S. Senator
- John Denver, singer
- Shaquille O’Neal
- Pam Grier, actress
- Kris Kristofferson, actor and singer
- Annie Leibovitz
- Heather Locklear, actress
- John Romero, game designer for Wolfenstein 3D, Quake, and Doom
- Trey Songz
- Derrick Thomas, NFL
- Gore Vidal
- Reese Witherspoon, actress
Observing Military Brats Day
Since this is an informal holiday and not a nationally-recognized one at the time of this writing, there may be local activities or events planned by pro-veteran agencies across the nation, but April 30th may require some individual planning. Military Brats, Inc. advises those who wish to honor or support the holiday to consider volunteering or giving to veterans and their families.
You can support the holiday and the push to get it federally recognized by using the hashtag #NationalMilitaryBratsDay on social media.
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News
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