When World War II broke out, four George County men said goodbye to their families and went off to defend America. They had to leave high school before receiving their diplomas. Though their lives have been filled with many other accomplishments, on Veteran's Day, they finally received the honor they missed 60 years ago.
"I was supposed to graduate in 1943. The Army called me and I didn't get to graduate," said World War II veteran Exro Walker.
Back in the 40s, four boys became men on the battlefields of World War Two. Instead of diplomas, they got draft cards. Instead of going to college, they went into combat. Now, decades later, their wait was over. The former soldiers became high school graduates, a title none expected to get in his 70's or 80's.
Richmond C. Gordon said "It feels funny to me. I'm a little old for that."
Inside the George County High School gym a generation of young Americans saluted the graduates for their bravery. It was a gesture that brought some graduates and their families to tears.
John Woodard an Army vet was "very emotional and I know I was gonna cry. I said, well, I'll just cry a little bit you know."
The tears were not tears of regret. The men say defending their country made waiting for their diplomas worth it.
The George County School district says it will hold more graduation ceremonies if there are other people in the county who left school early to go to war. If you, or a veteran you know living or deceased qualifies, call 601-947-3116.