World War II vet receives high school diploma 72 years later

World War II veteran Robert Miller receives his high school diploma at age 89

PULASKI, Pa. (WKBN) – In a home video of an emotional presentation Sunday, the superintendent of the Wilmington Area School District stopped by Robert Miller’s home to give him his high school diploma.

It took 72 years for this moment to happen.

On March 28, 1944, Miller joined the military as a Marine, fighting in World War II as a machine gunner in Okinawa to guard the airport for U.S. airplanes. Joining the military meant that Miller would leave school at the age of 17, never receiving the diploma.

“Everybody else was going so I figured well, if everybody else goes, I might as well go too,” he said.

Miller said, when he finished boot camp, he was told that he would receive his diploma, but he never received it — until now.

“They said I’d get it later, but it took a long time,” said the 89-year-old Miller.

Miller turns 90 in a few weeks, and while he received several honors for fighting in the war, it was getting his diploma that left him emotional on Tuesday.

“I never figured it would ever happen,” he said, with tears in his eyes.

When asked how it felt to finally hold the diploma, he said, “It feels wonderful.”

“It was meant to be this way, we were meant to wait this long I suppose,” Miller’s daughter-in-law, Karen Miller, said.

Karen said her father-in-law talked about how he always wanted to receive his diploma, so she made some phone calls on his behalf. She eventually spoke with Dr. Michelle Miller, the Wilmington Area School District superintendent at the school that Robert Miller once attended, and Michelle Miller said she would be honored to present the diploma to Robert.

Dr. Michelle Miller called the experience humbling.

“To hear his family be so proud of him for what he has accomplished in his life, even without a high school diploma, the pride that that family showed, it was humbling for me to be just a sliver of their day,” she said.

While 70 years is a long time, Karen believes it is better late than never.

“None of us can understand what our veterans do for us to be free,” she said. “At 17-years-old, to imagine what he went through and that he came back to us… was amazing. For me to help him, with the help of so many others who didn’t even know us from anybody, there are no words. You have belief in human compassion, I guess, this was just such a great thing that so many people made happen.”

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