Tuesday, April 17, 2012

renouncing U.S. citizenship

After two years in Berlin, as my separation date from the army drew near, one of the options available was to separate and remain in Europe. Several fellow soldiers had decided to do that. A couple had decided to become mercenaries in Africa. But while I was intellectually capable of seeing the advantages to living an extended and civilian life abroad, there was something in me that longed to be in a place where I could say, "the Lone Ranger" and know that the other person knew what I was talking about. A place where the were shared cultural touchstones, little and large ... a place where the sense of humor was understood ... a place I could feel at home. Up until that time, I hadn't paid much attention to being an "American."

And I felt strangely sheepish when the recognition hit me. The assumption of who I was was so ingrained that I hadn't even noticed the assumption. It was touching and it was real ... and I hadn't even noticed.

This recollection popped up today when reading an article about people who renounced their American citizenship because the American tax code was so intrusive and such a burden relative to their living-abroad lifestyle. Some, no doubt, were trying to dodge the tax bullet. Others stopped short of renunciation and opted for divorce. But one woman who had been brought up in a military and patriotic family, found the renunciation gut-wrenching in a way she had not envisioned.

"I grew up in a military family where patriotic feeling was very strong" Eysselinck says. "I'm amazed at how terrible I felt renouncing. But it was the only way to get them off my back. It's very distressing and time consuming to keep up with all the paperwork. But if it's this bad when I'm 64, how bad will it be when I'm 74?"
Citizenship is a strange and compelling thing, I guess. Makes me wonder how many other 'perfectly obvious' things I have overlooked.

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