WWII vet awarded diploma – 75 years late

World War II vet Dominic Giarusso

This story is courtesy of our sister station WPRI in Rhode Island.

CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Better late than never.

Dominic Giarrusso, 92, is finally a high school graduate.

In a packed ceremony Thursday morning at Cranston High School West, school officials presented Giarrusso with his diploma for the class of 1940.

He’d been making his way through high school when World War II broke out, and he enlisted in the U.S. Army at the age of 17, becoming a flight test engineer. After serving two tours of duty, he returned home and earned his general education diploma.

Giarrusso had actually gone to Central High in Providence, but Cranston West’s principal got the ball rolling to honor him after he and another veteran, John Casale Jr., had spoken to students earlier this month. Giarrusso had mentioned in passing that he’d never gotten his diploma.

Thursday, he donned the cap and gown, while his grandson looked on.

“Education is something I always said everyone should get,” said Giarrusso. “There’s no reason why they shouldn’t. It’s the gateway to the world.”wwII vet grad

“This, to me, is the definition of community,” said Cranston West Principal Thomas Barbieri. He’d made the arrangements for the ceremony with Central High School Principal Julia Carlson, and it was done at Cranston West because it was much closer to Giarusso’s home. They led a host of local dignitaries in the honor, including Cranston Mayor Allan Fung and school superintendents Dr. Susan Lusi of Providence and Dr. Judith Lundsten of Cranston.

The diploma could be considered a delayed birthday gift, too; Giarrusso turned 92 just at the end of January.

“Life is complete. It’s really wonderful,” Giarrusso said.

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