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Vets Have Mixed Emotions About Honorary Diplomas

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FAYETTEVILLE — At a Fayetteville veteran's lounge, former soldiers share old war stories and experiences. Some of them say Governor Mike Easley's gesture of offering an honorary high school diploma is the perfect way to honor our World War II vets. But others say diploma or not, it is too little, too late.

Richard Barker was a true soldier of war back in the late 1940s, and he still is today.

"When I was over there I was afraid that I was going to lose my nerve and become a coward."

Now a veteran of World War II, Barker doesn't regret a thing about his days in the military, not even that while serving his country, he lost out on getting his high school education.

"I learned a lot by working, and I learned a lot when I was in the service," he says.

That sacrifice prompted State Rep. Marvin Lucas, D-Fayetteville, to introduce a bill saluting World War II Vets.

"Because of all that they have given us for this freedom, and I said what a wonderful gesture to give them something to honor them," says Lucas.

The bill will allow the State Board of Education to issue a special high school diploma to honorably discharged veterans who were called to service in World War II before receiving their diplomas.

"Why didn't they give it to us when we first got out, when it meant something?" he says. "It don't mean a thing to me now."

Barker says he probably will not apply to get his special diploma, because without it he accomplished a lot.

"I pride myself that I learned a lot of what I learned without school. You can learn a lot of stuff without school, just by working."

Lucas says it iss up the veterans to decide if they want their diplomas. He says while some may decline, he's gotten a lot of feedback from World War II veterans who ask "Where can I sign up?"


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