Armed Forces Day is this Saturday. It’s an opportunity to show our respect and gratitude to those who risk their lives to keep us safe. For me, it’s a day to be thankful. You see I am a RAF brat. By that I mean that I am the daughter of a member of the Royal Air Force. Technically I should say I was a RAF brat. My Dad is now a ‘veteran’ (although he doesn’t like me using that word, makes him feel old I think). He served from when he was 17 to retirement. My Grandad also served in the RAF, as did two of my uncles. My cousin is currently in the Army. So our family has strong roots in the armed forces.
I was born at RAF Wegburg. This was in Germany where my Dad was posted at the time. We moved around a bit and we ended up back in England. I lived in RAF quarters and civilian houses. It was a pretty amazing way to grow up. Once I was a bit older my parents decided that my mum would stay put with me and my sister so we didn’t have to keep moving schools. My Dad continued to be posted here and there. He was often away but I loved the little blue airmail letters and the excitement of him coming home (And the presents he’d bring). Yes, he often missed birthdays and school plays but I knew he was doing important things so I never felt hard done by.
I’m often asked if it was scary knowing my Dad was off in dangerous situations, or living in RAF quarters where we could be targeted (and yes we did get the occasion warning letters of threats). Basically, no. I grew up in that lifestyle and so I didn’t know any different. My Dad didn’t really talk much about it. I think he always wanted to shelter us from the darker side.
(If you want to explain more about Armed Forces to your children Twinkl have a great PowerPoint and photo pack)
My Grandad often talks about the planes he worked on and the places he visited. It was all fascinating to me. Now I look back and actually, I am incredibly lucky. All of my family made it back every single time. No one was seriously injured. Now I’m older and I find out more about what my Dad went through and I realise that I am grateful for being sheltered from it.
Now that we are all ‘civvies’ it means J misses out on a whole part of what made my childhood. But I want him to have respect for what his family, and other families have been through. To recognise how much has been sacrificed by those who serve in the armed forces. I know J is only 3 but I’m starting as I mean to go on. So today we went to the ‘sunset parade’ in our local town.
The Sunset parade is a time of time where the day has ended and the night watch take over. Today there was a ceremony in our town where they took down the flag in a beautiful display, including a fly over by a team of Apache helicopters. J had a go pretending to drive an army vehicle, he was marching up and down the benches and was adamant that the band were playing If Your Happy and You Know It (they really weren’t). Once the big drums came into play and the parade started J put on his ear defenders and wanted to sit in the buggy. He was watching though and loved the fly over.
On Saturday there is a big celebration in our town to mark Armed Forces Day. However I will be at a close friends wedding so we wont be able to join in. Instead I will be running off with J’s Grandad’s memory album and showing him the photos of my Dads career.
I also plan on taking J to museums such as Duxford, air displays and one day I’d like to take him to one of the big parades when he’s older.
Has anyone else got links with the armed forces? Are you going to any Armed Forces Day events? I’d love to hear what you plan to get up to.