It’s Not Just Our Soldiers Who Serve Country

By Rory McClannahan for the Mountain View Telegraph

Circe Olson Woessner never raised her right hand and promised “to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

That doesn’t mean that she hasn’t served her country. As a wife, a mother and a daughter, she has served in a military role that you don’t hear much about on Veterans Day or Memorial Day — that of a family member.

As a girl, she followed her mother and father around the world as they worked in American Department of Defense schools that served military families. As a wife, she moved more than 20 times during her husband’s military career. And as a mother, she worries about a son who serves in the Army.

It was during her son’s deployment to Iraq when she got the idea for a museum that celebrates the American military family.

“All I could think was that there were Iraqi families that were worried about their sons,” Woessner said. “I thought, ‘military moms are tough, we have to be.’ ”

It also led her online to see what resources were available. And while there are many organizations to help — some supported by the military and others, like the Blue Star Mothers, that are private — there was no one who was collecting the stories of family members.

Ever since the founding of our country, there have been military family members. And their role has only increased as American bases have been located overseas.

And so the Museum of the American Military Family was born. With the help of her father, Allen Olson of Tijeras, Woessner has been working toward getting a permanent home for the museum, as well as creating exhibits and gathering information.

The father and daughter hope to find a location in New Mexico in which to put the museum, and both are optimistic that will happen.

In the meantime, though, they are putting together an exhibit to be shown at the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History in Albuquerque. Woessner says that the exhibit could be up by the fall, but that $20,000 is needed to create and set up the exhibit.

“It sounds like a lot of money,” she said, “but if we can find a corporation to underwrite this it will be easy.”

Without a building and with the need to raise money for exhibits in other museums, the Museum of the American Military Family is mostly an online presence, but it also has a traveling display called Operation Footlocker.

Woessner explained that an old military footlocker stuffed with mementos and is sent to different locations as a community outreach. The footlocker is sent out to different organizations with the trust that it will be returned intact. In addition, Woessner said her museum is working on an educational outreach where a museum member will take a footlocker to a school or other organization and give a presentation.

“We want people to realize that when a service member signs up, there is a family that shares that commitment,” Woessner said. “Our main mission is to preserve the history on the military family.”

The museum is sponsoring a logo contest. Those interested can go to the museum’s website at http://www.museumoftheamerican militaryfamily.org or its Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/Museum oftheAmerican Military Family to enter the contest, or find out how they can share their stories, photos and items.

Woessner can be reached at 505-504-6830 for more information on the museum.


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