Vietnam vets deserve diplomas

Some of you may remember a unique graduation ceremony at Escanaba HIgh School a few years back. Senior class graduates lined up to get their diplomas – a scene carried out at commencement ceremonies throughout the state. That year, however, a group of World War II veterans were among the graduates. They, too, walked across the stage and received their high school diplomas – decades after they left school. They were visibly moved by the experience, as were community members in attendance who gave them round after round of applause.

Michigan law made that scene possible. Many of these men had to leave school to serve their country. As a result, many of them never had the opportunity to get their high school diplomas. An act of the state Legislature allowed Michigan schools to award these heroes their diplomas. Similar legislation allows for Korean War veterans who did not receive their diplomas to also get them.

Currently, the state Senate is looking at legislation that would extend this to Michigan Vietnam veterans age 65 and older. Similar to the actions covering World War II and Korean War veterans, it would allow high schools to award diplomas to Vietnam veterans who failed to finish high school because of the war. We feel this is a worthwhile tribute to the Michigan residents who served their country in Vietnam and one the should get support from our state legislators.

This bill is being taken up today by the Senate’s Veterans, Military and Homeland Security Committee. Sen. Judy Emmons, R-Sheridan, is sponsoring the bill. She said, “it may seem like a small thing, but to our veterans and their families it is an important acknowledgment of everything they gave up so we could remain free.”

We couldn’t agree more.