Living on or near a military base is a cool experience. No, seriously! It’s not something that everyone gets to do. And as military spouses, it’s also something we can easily take for granted.
Statues, historic markers — they’re there, they’re always there, and they’re always something different, blah blah. Some of the richest, most exciting pieces of culture tend to fade into the background, simply because they are part of our everyday experiences.
However, it’s an exciting fact that you’re so close to history … and will be likely moving from it in the near-to-semi-near future. (Which means a whole other historic area to take on.)
Before your next PCS, take a look at the area’s hot spots and learn about where you live.
Take the Tour
Many bases offer a newcomers tour — sign up and take it! Schedules might be delayed or varied due to COVID. However, if and when the tour is open, be there!
These tours are great for the newly arrived (or those who’ve been on base and never paid attention to much around them — we’ve done it!). You’ll learn about historic hotspots, funny behind-the-scenes stories, and more. It’s also a great way to find out about on-post activities that won’t be advertised on the main billboard.
This is not only a great way to get acquainted with an area, but to learn why it operates the way that it does, including names, housing district areas, or any local traditions.
Consider attending an on-base tour!
Hike Around and Pull Up Close
Virtually every base has signs that announce an old barn, railroad tracks that led to Battle X or Victory Y. Seriously, you probably drive past them all the time! Next time, stop in and check it out for yourself.
Pull up, hike down the trail, or head on a bike ride. Most of these attractions have flyers or signs describing what and when something significant took place. This is a great way to take in the history of where you are with first-hand experiences.
This goes for hanging out off of post too. Search on sites like Yelp or Google to find info on historic areas of town and how you can experience them for yourself.
Read and/or Listen
For the biggest nerds of all out there (we’re right there with you), read and listen up on your area. Libraries will have books you can rent — ask a librarian for help finding what you’re looking for. (Most libraries are accepting appointments through COVID; see if you can schedule a time for an in-person visit. If not, email your local branch for help.) Or search for a podcast by topic.
Listen in your free time to learn more about whatever topics interest you most. We love this approach because it allows the military nerds to learn about warfare tactics, the architecture lovers to learn why bases are designed the way they are, and more. Choose what interests you and find a way to explore it in local history.
Your Base’s Website and MWR
Finally, you can find a number of historic-based activities by looking online. Each post will have its own resources that are dedicated to recreation. MWR locations also have info on local events and festivals. (Even if things are delayed this year, there’s still info to be gained.)
The more you take in, the better you can understand an area and get to know the reason behind the roots. This is just one more way you can appreciate military life and explore all that it has to offer.