The Heritage of a Military Brat

*E*, 9 years old, came home very excited.  "MOM! We have a big project at school and it has to be about our heritage, where we come from.  I want to do the country of Iceland!"

What is interesting is *E* is about 25% Hungarian, 12.5% Norwegian, a splash of Irish, Danish and French and the rest German.  Icelandic? There is none in his blood.  But it does run in his veins.

I lived in the country of Iceland from 10th grade through 12th grade at the now closed Naval Base in Keflavik.  My dad flew helicopters out of the 56th Rescue Squadron with the US Air Force.  So when I talk about my younger years and where I came from a lot of times Iceland is mentioned.  I never really thought about my heritage in terms of being a brat.  I knew it influenced who I was but influenced my own children?  I was suddenly excited to think that my 'brat-hood' had an impact on my own children and making a dent in their sphere of a world-view.

For his project he chose to do a diorama.  I called my mom to get some props.  She dug out the old photos of the scenery from our tour in Iceland.  She scanned them and emailed them to us.  (Isn't modern technology great?!)  We did a little official research on the computer about the country and we found a recipe to bring in.  (Part of the project was making a food to share with the class.) 

E and I talked about Icelandic hot dogs (pylsur) and the special sauce, fish drying-racks, even shark meat and "Rocky Mountain Oysters". We talked about how the sun didn't fully rise in the winter and that summers were a balmy 50 degrees. We discussed the lava rock fields, the Blue Lagoon and geothermal pools through out the country. I relived spelunking, watching puffins land at Vestmannaeyjar and seeing the most beautiful of waterfalls, without any type of safety guard-rail or fencing. Parts of the country are pure uninhabited beauty.

I couldn't help but wonder how many other kids were getting a first hand-account about a country of their heritage. I did talk to the teacher before we dove in and made sure that his lack of Icelandic blood-line would not be a problem. She seemed excited. I knew I was. And E, he was over the top ready to dive in.

We thought about doing pylsur (hot dogs) for the food part of his project.  After doing some research we found that (a) no one in northeast Ohio has them or can make then and (b) it would cost over $100 to have a package of 8 shipped and imported.  Scratch that.  On to food choice #2. 

Icelandic Pancakes

E, pouring the batter to make the crepes

He made about 10 crepes and then we cut them all into thirds for his class.

A Viking was with us as we prepared our dessert

Making the whipped cream topping

Each filled with a jelly of our choosing and topped
with whipped cream topping

The finished product, enjoyed with afternoon
coffee or tea.  YUM!

 It was a great lesson for all of us.  E was the only one in his class to do Iceland.  He was probably the only one with the heritage of a "Military Brat as well.  For that I am extra proud.  So for all of you dads and moms of military-brats be proud of your children and know that they will continue the legacy.  The legacy is deep rooted in our veins and carries through from generation to generation.

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

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  1. You have made my morning. My redneck (soldier) posted this on his FB page. I spent some of my childhood in Panama goldpanning, having a monkey for a short term pet - no shots available, pedaling my bicycle around the country with my little brother and no one batting an eye. We collected orchids from the jungle, spent time with the Cuna Indians and road a steam train from side of the country to the other and saw both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in a day. I, too, am proud to be a government (AAFES) brat and military spouse because of our journeys throughout Europe with our children. Watching my children chase pigeons around the Notre Dome Cathredral and all throughout Paris, Italy and Germany and the Netherlands.

  2. Oh I love it, Anonymous! I actually lived in Panama as well (Howard AFB)when I was about three years old till finishing up kindergarten. We had banana trees, monkeys, sloths and (egads) snakes in our own back yard. I tell my kids about the giant python that stretched from one side of the street to the other one afternoon. We have talked about the canal system there. The warm Christmases. The maid that lived downstairs. My boys soak it up! It's a first hand account of a different culture. They love it. Thanks for sharing.


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