Summary of Operation Footlocker History (April 15, 1996)
Operation Footlocker History is presented by the Military Brats Registry
Operation Footlocker History
Operation Footlocker was originally launched in 1996 by Mary Edwards Wertsch, Reta Jones Nicholson, and Gene Moser (the “operations officer” who handled the requests for displaying at events). Later, the operationfootlocker.com website was built and hosted by the Military Brats Registry, created by Marc Curtis. Currently, The Museum of the American Military Family houses the footlockers and ships them around the country when requested. Below is the history as presented by Mary.
I will explain some things about Operation Footlocker. The idea grew out of discussion on the Military Brats of America bulletin board on AOL(1) concerning whether there should be a monument erected to honor military brats and our role inside the Fortress (my term for military culture). Their discussion was very interesting and at one point took a humorous turn–someone posted the idea that maybe what we should have as most symbolic of our rearing is not a monument in stone somewhere (at least, not yet) but a footlocker that travels around and never stops for long. Some of us spotted the potential in that idea and got really excited: The Footlocker (as it quickly became capitalized in our minds) could travel from group of brats to group of brats, and each time, with local publicity, be an occasion for brats to come together and swap stories, celebrate, and in various ways pay tribute to our roots.
One way this could happen (and it is a way that we, the initiators of the project, are actively encouraging) is for the brats at each stop to contribute small items of memorabilia (including written or recorded memories) to the Footlocker’s contents. Travelling with the Footlocker will be a bound book in which each brat will be invited to list his or her name and address and note the item contributed. (I suppose the name and address could be optional, but please read on for why this might be a good idea.) Why list name and address? Well, if our movement continues to grow, such a record might be an important part of our archives one day. Secondly, if you have a precious item of memorabilia you would like to contribute to an archive but are not willing to risk to a travelling footlocker (as someone just wondered about in a recent posting), you could write something describing the item and its significance to you, maybe attach a photo of it, and if we do have an archive one day, the archivist would be able to contact you through the address you have given in the logbook.
Two of us who are willing to help launch Operation Footlocker live in Missouri. It is looking very likely that we will stage the first Footlocker Event in St. Louis in late July 1996. Possibly, if the organizers of Grand Reunion ’96(2) are receptive to this idea, the Footlocker could then go on to the Reunion in D.C. during the first week of August. From there, we would hope there would be another group of waiting brats eager to receive it. Please–we welcome your comments, suggestions, ideas, help on this project!
Let us know how you feel about this, and what you would contribute to the Footlocker if it came to you….Mary Edwards Wertsch
1. The Military Brats of America (now defunct) bulletin board was on both AOL and Compuserve, and merged into one group by agreement with those two entities. We are currently doing research to uncover the original posts about a Brat monument that led to the beginning of Operation Footlocker.
2. Grand Reunion ’96 was a large gathering. More information is needed from anyone who organized or attended!