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Two Veterans Just Became High School Graduates Decades After Leaving For War

Graduating high school is a huge accomplishment that shouldn't be taken lightly. Some may not consider it to be as big as earning a degree or diploma from a post-secondary institution. But you wouldn't have gotten to that point if you hadn't graduated from high school first. High school was the stepping stone; a kicking-off point to allow you to move on to even bigger accomplishments.

High school is the first big graduation of your life, and for some it's the only one. However, for two war veterans, it's a ceremony they never got to experience in the first place because their country needed them instead.

These two veterans of war never had the chance to don a cap and gown and walk across a stage to earn their diploma.

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Instead, their respective wars required them to leave the country entirely, so their dreams of graduating were put on hold indefinitely.

Now, decades later, they finally got to see these dreams realized after joining two graduating high school classes of 2019 to celebrate what they first accomplished years ago.

85-year-old Bill William Arnold Craddock is a veteran of the Korean War.

WJHL

At 16-years-old, he joined the military in the Air Force.

He was supposed to graduate from Science Hill High School in 1953, but the onset of the Korean War saw him whisked away to fight for his country.

Although he eventually completed his GED, he never got to have the graduation ceremony he always wanted.

Last week, he joined the 2019 graduating class of Volunteer High School at their ceremony where he formally graduated, as well.

WJHL

"It means a lot to me," the overjoyed veteran told WJHL while dressed in a blue cap and gown. "I'm tickled pink that I went through this to get this."

Craddock also offerd some words of wisdom to the class of 2019 and to those he would have graduated with in 1953: "Study hard, be good, and learn all you can. Get the best education you can get."

95-year-old World War II veteran Joe Perricone was drafted in 1943.

WFLA

He had been attending Hillsborough High School before he was suddenly sent overseas to fight in the U.S. Army, WFLA reported.

Although he finished his education and earned his diploma when he returned home, he never had any formal graduation ceremony, something which his grandson, Judge Thomas Palermo, set out to change.

Judge Palermo arranged for his grandfather to join the 2019 graduating class of his old high school at their ceremony.

WFLA

Last week, more than 70 years since he graduated high school, Perricone proudly donned a red cap and gown to formally receive his diploma.

At the ceremony, he was honored for his service in the military, and he was also the first person to cross the stage.

h/t: CNN