HIGHLAND HOME, AL (WSFA) - In February of 2014, the Alabama Legislature passed legislation granting high school diplomas to qualifying World War II, Korean and Vietnam War veterans. Many of these veterans left school before graduation so they could join the military.
In honor of his upcoming 93rd birthday, an Army veteran's wife secretly arranged for her husband's dream to come true.
The Highland Home class of 2015 could learn a thing or two from one of their fellow graduates.
"I'm just appreciative of the Lord Jesus for letting me live to be 93," said Army Veteran, J.D. Sexton.
Among the sea of gowns and tassels, one diploma has been a long time coming.
"It's a wonderful thing to come up here and be with the people and to receive a diploma for high school education," Sexton said.
Sexton was born in 1922 and lived in the Danielville Community. In 1943 Sexton, like so many young men, was drafted into the Army.
He saw combat in the Battle of the Bulge and was involved in the liberation of thousands of Holocaust victims. Sexton retired in 1982 with the rank of Master Sergeant.
Although he received his GED in the 70's, it's been a lifelong dream to receive a high school diploma from Highland Home School where he attended school.
For Sexton, that diploma means reclaiming a part of his youth, a rite of passage he missed out on while selflessly serving his country. A piece of paper that symbolizes so much more.
After receiving his diploma, Sexton turned to the graduates and said "go forth in life, and put forth all the effort you have."
"It sends a huge message to our young people today for them to value that high school diploma to value what it means," said Sherry Sport,Supervisor, Crenshaw County Board of Education.