An 89-year-old World War II Veteran who left high school to join the U.S. Navy joined the graduating class of 2017 over the Memorial Day weekend.
Michigan resident Milton Mockerman walked with the senior class of Kalkasa High School on Sunday.
“I don’t know how you’d put it in words but it does mean a lot to me,” Mockerman told WQAD before the ceremony as he held back tears.
Mockerman had forged his birth certificate after he left high school early to join the Navy, Kalkasa High School Principal John Sattler told CNN.
After the war, Mockerman returned to Michigan and worked a few odd jobs before working on the railroad for 31 years.
“We got a phone call from Milton Mockerman wondering if there were any classes he could take to finish his graduation,” Sattler said.
Sattler approached the board of education to asked if they would award him an honorary diploma. The board voted unanimously to grant Mockerman’s lifelong dream 71 years later.
“Because of his years of service in the military, we … gave him an honorary diploma,” Sattler said.
Sattler spoke to some of the high school’s history classes about his time in the war. He also addressed the seniors at the graduation ceremony.
“I didn’t know what to say, so I just kind of told them, ‘Well, you’ve proved to me today that this high school graduating class must be smarter than I am,'” Mockerman told CNN. “Because what they took four years to do, it took me 71 years to come to that conclusion.”
Mockerman’s son, Mark Mockerman, attended the ceremony.
“It was one of the greatest things I’ve seen,” Mark Mockerman told CNN. “My dad hasn’t had a lot of notoriety, and he deserves it, because he’s been the kind of dad that everyone should have had. He’s always there for me.”
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