COTTAGE GROVE, Minn. - Imagine being told at age 90 that you can't take your dream vacation because you can't prove you were born in the United States.
A Cottage Grove man is struggling to get a passport because of where in America he was born.
Ray Morgan will soon celebrate a new decade with a sense of humor.
“Just haven't paid too much attention to the candles,” said Morgan, who is turning 90 years old.
But he and his wife Sandy are having some serious trouble planning one last big vacation to mark the monumental birthday.
They last visited the Canadian Rockies in 1982.
“And that's what we're hoping to see again,” Sandy said. “The more we thought about it, we thought heck, why not?”
But in 2016, crossing the Canadian border requires a passport. And that's where the Morgan's vacation plans hit a snag.
“My family was born at home,” Ray said.
Born in his family's Iowa home, Ray has no birth certificate. No proof he's a U.S. citizen.
“I never needed a birth certificate,” Ray said.
But to get a passport, Ray does need one. That’s despite the fact he served his country.
“January '45, I got out of the Navy,” Ray said.
Then Ray spent 30 years as a market reporter for the USDA. That means, who signed his paychecks?
“Well, it was the federal government,” Ray said. “It's so comical. When we tell anyone about it, they laugh. It's funny to them, too. And it is.”
Without a birth certificate, the Bureau of Consular Affairs says Ray could have someone who witnessed his birth 90 years ago sign a letter to vouch for him.
“How is that possible?” Sandy laughed.
Or Ray can gather as much evidence as he can that he's a citizen. "Early public records" the passport office calls them.
“We kind of feel that we shouldn't have to go through this, you know,” Ray said.
But the Morgans are working on that. And hoping a passport worker will use discretion and allow them this dream vacation.
“It would just be a trip we'd always remember,” Sandy said.
The Morgans made a breakthrough Monday when they learned Ray’s old church in Sioux City, Iowa, still has his baptismal certificate from 1926. They can send that to the Bureau of Consular Affairs, along with a certificate from Iowa stating there is no record of his birth. Then it would be up to the passport office.
Federal law says they need a "preponderance of evidence" that the applicant is a U.S. citizen.
UPDATE: Sen. Amy Klobuchar's office contacted Ray Morgan Tuesday morning, hoping to help him get a passport. Morgan said other local lawmakers have also reached out to find a solution.