This post was inspired by comments on moving when I lived in the barracks. There always seemed to be the assumption that somehow we all lived like monks who had taken a vow of poverty. In fact one of the biggest impressions that barracks life left me was that where I was living was always considered “temporary.”
I lived in the barracks for six years. Hardly temporary.
I think some of this comes from World War II military. Despite the fact that WWII was over 70 years ago, it’s still very much a part of our culture.
We have a local insurance company that uses a cartoon general. WWII fatigues, steel pot helmet, and five stars (a rank that no longer exists). And Beatle Bailey, which has the same type of uniform, the fat sergeant (who would be kicked out today), and the bay barracks.
So it seems like the imprint WWII made on our culture also impacted the military’s own image of soldiers living in the barracks.
Then, the soldiers would have been temporary, drafted for the war. Once they finished their hitch, they would go back to civilian life. It makes sense that everything was temporary.
But it’s seventy + years, and the world’s changed a lot. What were the soldiers supposed to do once they got off work at 5:00? Eat dinner, come back, and clean up the barracks and go to bed every night?
For six years?
So there was always that disconnect. The sergeants sometimes forgot that we did have lives outside of the military. No one thought hat we might want a place we spent a lot of time in to look halfway decent and not like a place to park for the night.