JACKSON, Mich. — It has taken more than 65 years, but Edward Sanders is getting his high school diploma.
Sanders, an 87-year-old Korean War veteran from Michigan, joined the Air Force in 1952, dropping out of Jackson High School during his junior year to become a pilot. He was 18.
Sanders served four years of active duty and four years as a reserve officer before he was discharged in 1960.
He finally got his diploma this year, graduating at the same time as his great-great niece, MLive reported.
“I never dreamed I would be able to graduate,” Sanders told the website. “I’m so thankful for that.”
The diploma was attainable through a Michigan act that allows school boards to award them to veterans who left high school early to serve during World War II, the Korean War or the Vietnam War, MLive reported.
Sanders said he has already picked up his cap, gown and diploma. Graduation ceremonies are set for Aug. 8.
“I want to thank Principal (Monica Pierce) for helping me out,” Sanders told MLive. “She’s really a wonderful woman. She made it happen. This 87-year-old Korean War veteran got his diploma.”
The graduation will be doubly meaningful for Sanders’ great-great niece, Alex Bissell, who was forced to delay her walk across the graduation stage because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I thought ‘Boy this is going to be really special,’” Bissell told MLive. “That’s the best part of all of this. It’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”
For Sanders, it’s the culmination of a lifelong dream.
“I never dreamed I could do it,” Sanders told MLive. “I’d given up on it.”