USASAC manager appreciates her military childhood
Savannah Taylor, then a senior at James Clemens High School in Madison, shares a sideline moment with her father, Courtney Taylor, who retired as a colonel. (Photo Credit: Courtesy) VIEW ORIGINAL

Being born into a military family contributed immensely to the person I am today. My journey started just six days after I was born, being moved from my birth state to another state halfway across the country. Over the years, I would acquire eight more moves before settling down in a place that I could call home.

My dad served 24 years in the U.S. Army that also brought along three deployments. Though it undoubtedly came with its hardships, I am forever grateful to have grown up as a military child.

Packing up everything we owned and moving around every 24 months was not always smooth sailing, but it taught both me and my brother so many life lessons. We learned to be flexible and resilient in the midst of new places, people and ways of life. Routinely being the outsider forced us to adapt to our environment and relate to people from all walks of life. We had to leave many valuable friendships behind at each station, but my brother and I learned how to make friends easily. For that reason, we both typically floated in and out of all the high school cliques. We were able to ‘fit in’ with various groups of people, which made high school an enjoyable time for both of us.

Our unique situation of moving so frequently and being separated from extended family also molded my immediate family to be extremely tight knit. Our family of four has an inseparable bond that I cherish and largely accredit to the Army. My dad’s absence for months or a year at a time also made us never take for granted the time we did have together. I’m so thankful for the two weeks he was able to come home on R&R, and I remember how badly I would look forward to those days the entire year.

There was never a dull moment in those weeks, and it would have never been long enough. It seemed harder to say goodbye after that short amount of time than the first time he left. My brother and I were basically attached at the hip most of our childhood and have continued to be close friends as we have grown older. I don’t think we would have the relationship as siblings that we do now without being military children. We were each other’s constant throughout a way of life that was not.

At each new station other military families immediately became our extended family, particularly when we lived on post and when my dad was overseas. It was incredible to see how people you barely knew would play whatever role was needed to support other families because they understood the challenges. One could not fully grasp what it’s like to be part of a military family unless they have lived it to feel the thousands of emotions.

I can say the hardest part throughout all the years was saying goodbye to my dad. Many dance recitals, school graduations, birthdays and family gatherings that a dad would be there for, we were not able to share together. My family had to selflessly give him up for a greater good. Sometimes I still wish he could have been there, but as I have matured, I feel more pride than anything else of his bravery and accomplishments.

Another aspect the Army helped bring my family was a greater perception of viewing the world. My dad’s career allowed us to travel and visit many places and immerse ourselves in the culture. We’ve been to multiple countries in Asia as well as lived in Hawaii. Many of my friends have never been out of the state that they were born in. As a result of our opportunities, I believe that my brother and I have a much less myopic view of the world.

I possess many characteristics that being a military child influenced, but the strongest is arguably my patriotism and love for country. My friends like to joke that I would be the only person to cry at hearing the national anthem. In school, when my class would say the Pledge of Allegiance, I was the only 5-year-old who took it extremely seriously. But to me, seeing day-in and day-out what those around me have given and dedicated their lives to, I naturally desire to give respect in return. Very few kids are able to stand for something much larger than themselves.

I used to hate being asked the question “where are you from?” because I really wasn’t from anywhere, and “home” was just wherever the Army sent us. Though as I have gotten older, I love telling people my story. Being a military child is part of my identity, and I love who I am in part due to my dad’s career. I am honored to be a small part in supporting him and others like him in defending the land we are all fortunate enough to call home.

Editor’s note: Savannah Taylor is a recent graduate from the University of Alabama, and has joined the Security Assistance Command as a country program manager for Columbia. Her father, Courtney Taylor, continues to serve this nation as the operations division chief at USASAC.