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Symbols of Military Brat Culture

Military brats, the children of full-time active duty members, form a unique U.S. subculture revolving around the goodbyes, hellos, and adventures of moving. Here's a brief list of universal military brat symbols I've compiled:


No one knows about traveling the world more than military brats do. If you’ve watched Pixar’s famous movie Inside Out, you probably remember Bing Bong and the scene where he pulls out rather peculiar items from his imaginary bag—an old boot, a sea anchor, a trumpet, part of a sink, and even a cat.

So what’s in your moving backpack? Is it light or heavy? What items are necessities and which ones are purely for your self-fulfillment and entertainment? I’m curious to see which Bing Bong-like items you can pull out from your backpack and show off to the world!


No, not the one you set for 7 AM every day so you aren’t late for school, a half-zipped backpack hanging from your shoulder and spoonfuls of cereal spilling from your mouth—you anticipate that. Rather, you know those unexpected fire alarms that go off in class, the ones that take time off your math test, for the better or for the worse? That, except it isn’t a drill.

There’s a little alarm embedded in all of us, one that goes off unexpectedly when it’s time to leave. You constantly remind yourself that everything is temporary and that the alarm will go off eventually, yet it surprises you every time when it does. At such short notice, you scramble to make final plans with friends and try to take in every detail of your house, hoping to fill the empty void in your head with happy memories of the place.


I know, typical. But there’s a reason why the dandelion serves as the universal symbol for military brats. When a dandelion blooms, its petals sprout from its stem-green center and take on an attractive bright yellow color. Eventually, after it’s served its time, the dandelion withers into a fluffy white globe of exposed seeds. Pluck out the plant, blow softly, and watch the seeds drift away with the wind—it’s time for the little guy’s next adventure.

Like a dandelion, we wither when it’s time to go, drifting along with the wind, and plant our roots wherever our next destination awaits. I guess this could also play into an alternative version of the famous chicken or the egg paradox dating back to Ancient Greece. Science has proven that flowers have come far before seeds, but let’s make this in terms of military life, from your perspective. Which came first: the dandelion or the seed?


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