Local News

N.C. Veterans Finally Receive High School Diplomas

Posted November 2, 2001

— When the United States called upon Americans to fight in World War II, young men and women left their homes to join or be drafted into the military. Many of them never had the chance to finish high school. Years later, 38 North Carolina veterans received a long overdue honor -- their diplomas.

It took them 60 years to get a North Carolina high school diploma, but 38 state veterans finally received theirs on Thursday. Initially, World War II got in the way of graduation.

"You left your families. You left your homes. You left your education behind and then, you came back and you went to work," said Gov. Mike Easley at the ceremony.

Ezzie Stewart should have graduated from Carver High in Mount Olive in 1942. He went to Italy instead. Fifty-one years later, he received a diploma.

"It felt really great. It was an honor for me to receive this diploma," he said.

The General Assembly authorized the diplomas and instructed the state school board and Veterans Affairs to find those honorably discharged from the military.

"Veterans have felt neglected and this is certainly one way of letting them know that they weren't," said Stewart's daughter, Lillian Couch.

The diploma does not mean our veterans are now more educated.

"It means, like, I've been appreciated," said graduate Larry Turner.

Similar ceremonies will take place across the state in the next few weeks to honor other veterans who could not make the trip to Raleigh.

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