After 81 years, he's now a U.S. citizen

Ryan Billingsly
Arnold Jacobs of Galva (left) stands with an unidentified U.S. federal employee moments after begin given his U.S. citizenship in a brief ceremony in Chicago. The granting of the citizenship came 81 years after Jacobs came to the U.S. from Germany as a baby.

Before Arnie Jacobs left to serve in the Korean War, his father gave him some marching orders.

“Do not disgrace your house; do not disgrace your flag; do not disgrace your country,” his father told him.

It’s a phrase Jacobs lived up to at the time. He has ever since, too.

That makes becoming a U.S. citizen - something Jacobs became at age 81 on Jan. 19 - all the more special.

Brought by his parents to America from Germany on the S.S. Albert Ballin at just 5 months of age, Jacobs had served meritoriously with U.S. troops in Korea. He returned to the U.S. with a Combat Infantry Badge, Korean Service Medal with Bronze Battle Star, United Nations Service Medal, and Army of Occupation Medal.

But he did so as a non-U.S. citizen. And his efforts overseas didn’t impress immigration officials.

“I was discharged on Oct. 12, 1952, and got home on the 15th,” Jacobs, of Galva, recalled Sunday. “I helped the local folk pull out some crops, then headed for the courthouse with my military and honorable discharge papers. I was told to present the papers to the courthouse so I could start the citizenship process.

“But the immigration officer told me that the papers meant nothing. I didn’t say anything and walked out of the courthouse.”

He didn’t return, either.

“As far as I am concerned, it was an insult,” he explained.

For the rest of this story, see the Jan. 28 Galva News.