Linton man proud to finally be an American citizen

Friday, September 17, 2010
Ulrich J. "Rick" Jacobshagen (By Nick Schneider)

Ulrich J. "Rick" Jacobshagen is an American citizen.

On June 17, in the U.S. District Courthouse in Indianapolis, 70 people from different countries and nationalities stood to take an oath to become naturalized citizens. Jacobshagen was one of them and he says the emotions he felt at that moment are hard to describe.

"It was the greatest moment of my life," said Jacobshagen.

Jacobshagen, who was born in Germany, was about 13 when he, his mother and two brothers boarded a boat bound for a new life in America. With support from his uncle who was already in the States and had become a successful businessman, they settled in Chicago where Jacobshagen went to school.

At the age of 18, Jacobshagen went to work at one of the businesses owned by his uncle, Farmers Tankage in Newberry. His stint there was followed by another in Henderson, Ky., then one in Jackson, Miss.

Jacobshagen, who said the family entered the country legally, had "permanent resident" status when he got the call to serve his country while he was in Jackson.

"I got that famous letter that says 'I want you' from Uncle Sam," said Jacobshagen adding he was happy to go. "I lived in this country and that was my obligation."

He served in the U.S Army for two years.

"I did one of the most important things. I took food out to the troops," he laughed. "I worked in the motor pool. Sometimes I hauled water, and sometimes the company commander."

When he was honorably discharged in 1964, he went back to work in Jackson then decided to return to Indiana to become a Hoosier.

He got a job at Griffin Industries in Newberry where he became a plant manager and eventually retired after 36 years of service.

Jacobshagen said life was good. He had a steady job and a snazzy blue 1967 LeMans with four on the floor. And after work, he liked to take a spin to Red's Drive-In (former Dog 'N Suds) in Linton. That's where his future wife, Rebecca, a Linton native, was working.

Rick and Rebecca married in 1968 and a few years later moved in to a stone house on State Road 54 on the east side of Linton where they've lived for over 36 years.

Their son Karl grew up to be a policeman. He graduated from Linton-Stockton then from Vincennes University then joined the Linton Police Department. Rick and Rebecca are now the proud grandparents of two grandkids.

Looking back on his life's journey, Rick says, "When I think about that boat ride, it's been an adventure from day one."

Rebecca says her husband worked hard, put in a lot of hours and was a good family man.

The years went by.

Rick said all of a sudden you are retired, with one more thing that you didn't do but wish you had.

He had taken the boat ride, learned to speak English, served his beloved country, worked hard and raised a family, but had not become a citizen.

"It was a deep down thing that I wanted to accomplish," said Rick. It nagged at him.

Then one day, he read a story in the Greene County Daily World about Margaret Amos, a local woman who had become a naturalized citizen.

The family talked about it, decided to "go for it," and Rick's son Karl went to talk to Amos who was the Family Assistance Specialist at the National Guard Armory in Linton.

His son returned from that meeting with information, paperwork and an application in hand.

"When he popped in the door and had those papers ...," said Rick, not ending the sentence but shaking his head to indicate the emotion of the moment when he realized he was actually going to accomplish this goal.

He spent time studying for the citizenship test which he says covers the way our government works and the country's history.

Karl then accompanied his father on several trips to Indianapolis, for fingerprints, background checks, one-on-one interviews and the test, which Rick passed.

"They want to know things you've forgotten," laughed Rick adding he was nervous on every trip.

On the day of the ceremony, dressed up in a suit and tie in the front row, and with Rebecca and Karl in the front row of the audience, Rick was asked to stand for a special recognition in front of all -- because he was the oldest one taking the oath that day.

That honor, which was unexpected, came with another surprise. Jacobshagen received a United States flag that had flown over the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. at the request of U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar.

Rick, Rebecca and Karl Jacobshagen (Photo by Anna Rochelle)

This tradition of honoring the oldest at every naturalization ceremony, and presenting them with a flag, was started in 1986 by the International Center of Indianapolis (ICI) as a tribute to the late Antonietta Cordingly, a naturalized citizen from Italy who served as an ICI board member and a municipal court judge.

To those who were born in the United States and take citizenship for granted, Rick Jacobshagen's pride in becoming an American citizen is inspiring and causes those who meet him to pause and remember to be thankful.

That flag is probably his most-prized possession. It means something. He handles it with the utmost care and respect and shows it with pride popping out all over. It most certainly will be on display for all to see in front of the Jacobshagen home come Fourth of July.

Rick says he thinks people who complain and criticize this country would appreciate it more if they knew what life was like in other countries.

"We should load 'em up and send them across the pond for awhile. Then they'd find out," said Rick.

He is also proud of his new passport that identifies him as an American citizen.

"I am 100 percent an American citizen," said Jacobshagen also noting that he has some new responsibilities now.

He is now a registered voter and excited to be able to vote in an election for the first time.

And, he could be called for jury duty. That obligation may be a dreaded chore for many citizens, but not for Rick Jacobshagen. If he is called to serve, it will be an honor.

Jacobshagen says he is appreciative of all the help and encouragement given to him and his family by Margaret Amos. Since her story in the newspaper inspired him to take the steps necessary to realize his dream, he's hopeful that his own story might also inspire someone else to become a citizen.

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  • Congratulations Rick!!

    -- Posted by switzie on Fri, Sep 17, 2010, at 2:32 PM
  • Very nice!

    -- Posted by RDK on Fri, Sep 17, 2010, at 6:08 PM
  • We share your pride, Rick - congratulations !

    -- Posted by cruella on Fri, Sep 17, 2010, at 7:51 PM
  • Congratulations. And thank you for caring enough to do it.

    -- Posted by Sue62 on Fri, Sep 17, 2010, at 8:54 PM
  • A test? Any man or woman that serves this country that isn't already a citizen shouldn't have to pass some test - they're American hero's!

    -- Posted by Chaney on Fri, Sep 17, 2010, at 10:04 PM
  • Such a nice man! Congratulations!

    -- Posted by Softball Coach on Fri, Sep 17, 2010, at 10:16 PM
  • congratulations rick!!!!! i must agree with chaney though... although you may not have been considered an american citizen you should have been you are an american hero!!!!

    -- Posted by sissy on Fri, Sep 17, 2010, at 11:04 PM
  • What an inspiring story! Congratulations, Rick! Thanks for all you've done for our country & community!

    -- Posted by charsellsavon on Fri, Sep 17, 2010, at 11:35 PM
  • Finally, a story we can be proud of. Congratulations Rick!!!!

    -- Posted by Mr. Bojangles on Sat, Sep 18, 2010, at 3:22 PM
  • First, congratulations !!! Second, I never knew a person could be in the U.S. armed forces who wasnt a U.S. "citizen". He should have been given his citizenship with his honorable discharge !!! It would be nice if every immigrant had the same love for this country that Mr. Jacobshagen has.

    -- Posted by migrated north on Sat, Sep 18, 2010, at 4:43 PM
  • Congratulations, I know how much this means to you. I agree, a great story and is very refreshing to see someone take so much pride in what so many others take for granted.. WAY TO GO RICK

    -- Posted by Troy Jerrell on Sat, Sep 18, 2010, at 11:31 PM
  • congratulations RICK You should have been a citizen a long time ago.

    -- Posted by bloomfield51 on Sun, Sep 19, 2010, at 5:50 AM
  • Congratulations, Rick! You are a beam of hope for all Americans who desire legal immigration. I appreciate your service to our country and your insightfulness to receive full legal citizenship.

    You are a hero!

    -- Posted by cow rancher on Sun, Sep 19, 2010, at 7:56 AM
  • Rick, Your story has a lot of meaning to me as my parents were immigrants who came to the US just after the turn of the 1900's. They came on separate ships, and did not know one another. They married later. Both of them became US Citizens. Like you, my dad enlisted and served (in WWI). Someone once asked him if he ever longed to go back "home." He proudly told them "I am home." That said it all. They both loved America.

    My parents died many years ago, but I will never forget their love for this country. They passed it on to me and all of my siblings. I had five brothers who all served in the US Military.

    On an added note...I have always wondered how they felt when their ships pulled into New York Harbor, and they saw the Statue of Liberty! I wish I could have been there.

    God bless you and your family.

    -- Posted by senior patriot on Sun, Sep 19, 2010, at 4:09 PM
  • I called Rick yesterday and talked to him. I think it is great. I was in the Army 1958-1960 there was a man from Germany, Named Lauffer who had just been in the U. S. 6 months. There was another named Matuska who was a tank commander in the Hungarian revolution in 1956. U. S. citizenship is not required.

    -- Posted by wgravemier on Sun, Sep 19, 2010, at 4:10 PM
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