Friday, April 11, 2008

Honorary Citizens....

This is one of those things that I've chewed on for quite awhile and I think it's time to throw it out there and let all of you have a little bite, too.

As spouses of active duty military members we live in a weird "no-man's land" state of limbo as far as our residency goes. Some states directly address us as far as drivers licenses and taxes go, but many do not. And when they do it seems that we generally get the short end of the stick; we're residents of whatever state we're in when it comes to vehicle registration in our name, to drivers licenses (with a few exceptions) and to tuition. But, come tax time they give us the fid with the non-resident taxes, unless our active-duty spouse is a resident in that state, too. Generous, isn't it?

Well, my point, and I am getting to it, I promise, is that we really don't belong anywhere. We left home to follow our dreams or to follow our spouse or a quirky combination of the two, so we don't really belong there anymore. But, then when we land in each new home port, we don't really belong there either. It's just a pit stop along the way.

I think this is a new kind of feeling for me, as the other places we've lived I've been very active in the community and was welcomed into "the fold" as one who belonged. But, this trip brought us to an official Coast Guard City, and for some reason they seem to have a better grasp on the reality of our temporary nature. This is where my irritation comes in. This Coast Guard City puts on a big shindig and recognizes some outstanding Coasties each year. It's a nice time and a chance to dress up and it's nice for those hard working men and women to be recognized. But, how do they recognize them? As "Honorary Citizens".

Congratulations Chief, you worked your booty off volunteering with our children, cleaning up our town, taking time away from your family to improve the overall well-being of our community, we're going to give you an award that minimizes your place in our community.

We all live here. We send our children to school here. We shop here and go to the doctor here. We read the paper and watch the news here. We work here. We, oftentimes, take a more active role in this community then life-long citizens....but yet, you've taken it upon yourselves to remind us that we don't belong.

I realize that not everyone who reads this is going to understand or agree, and I sincerely hope that most people don't feel this way where they live. I never did before. And I hope that I never do again.


Amber said...

First of all - you really watch the news there? *snort*

Now, honestly, I do agree that the Honorary Citizen business is a little insulting and extremely par for the course there. Walk in our parades, be involved in sports, activities, service groups, but don't consider yourself one of US.

I was thinking about the whole citizenship thing, too, recently. What kind of choice do we have? It would be nice if what was good for our spouses applied to us, too.

This is a great post, and a most unfortunate circumstance.

Just a Girl in a Port said...

Well, that's a weird situation. I can't believe they called them "honorary". How odd.

I think you made some excellent points. We tend to become semi-rooted in the places we live because of two things (1) we know we just have to bloom where we are planted and (2) because it's our home, at least for a little while. Involvement in the community is such an important thing and I'll agree long-time residents often don't do nearly as much as the 'temp' folks. Of course, that may have a lot to do with our makeup. If I may speak for the military community at large, we feel responsible, we want to make things better in the world and we often strive to set good examples for other citizens, our peers and our children.

Again, great post.

Who I Am said...

You know, I was talking with my husband about this just the other day. Funny how these "Coast Guard Cities" and any city that we reside in really, don't consider us genuine citizens. I pay my taxes, I volunteer in the community, I give local businesses as much of my money as possible. Thank you for your post. Very thought provoking.