No matter how we feel about our high school education, most of us came away from it with a diploma. But for 87-year-old Edward Sanders, who dropped out of high school as a junior, a diploma wasn’t something he could boast about. Not for another few years, anyway.
Edward, of Jackson, MI, hadn’t left school early because he simply didn’t want to carry on. He was actually following his dreams of becoming a pilot.
Ever since a flight school had moved to the local area, and Edward had flown his first plane, he’d been hooked. Thanks to an arrangement with the flight school’s owner, Edward was able to practice flying planes providing he did some work there.
When there was an opening in the U.S. Air Force for bomber pilots to fight in the Korean War, though Edward had preferred the idea of being a fighter pilot, he applied for the job. Speaking to MLive, Edward recalled,
“Next thing I knew I was in Korea, wishing I was back in Jackson.”
According to Edward, bomber planes were incredibly fast and scary to fly. In some instances, the plane wouldn’t speed up enough to take off, and the pilots would be forced to abandon their attempt at the last minute.
Edward said that no one could imagine what it had been like, adding,
““My first day there, I thought it would be my last.”
Even while keeping busy in the army, Edward still managed to keep a hold on romance. When he was on leave, he saw a photograph of someone from his high school, who his now his wife, Patricia. Edward recalled,
“(I) thought she was the prettiest girl in Jackson, so I asked her would she wait for me, and she said she would. When I got out, we got married.”
Edward worked on a number of locations while in the army, including Alaska and Morocco. He served on active duty for four years, followed by four years as a reserve officer. When he was discharged in 1960, he worked in factory jobs throughout his life, right up until his retirement.
It was only recently that Edward considered going back to high school to get his diploma. He discovered that there was a state of Michigan act that lets school boards award diplomas to veterans who left high school to serve in the army for a number of different wars.
The novel coronavirus has seen graduations across the world cancelled or rescheduled, and Edward’s was one of them. His new graduation date is August 8 – and, to make the moment extra special, he’ll be graduating at the same time as his great-great niece, Alex Bissell.
Despite having collected his cap and gown, Edward is still in disbelief that he’s finally going to be graduating. He said:
“I want to thank the principal for helping me out. She’s really a wonderful woman. She made it happen. This 87-year-old Korean War veteran got his diploma.”
Edward’s story is proof that it’s never too late to pursue your goals, and there’s always a way for the things that seem unlikely or impossible. As even Edward said himself:
“I never dreamed I would be able to graduate. “I’m so thankful for that.”
Please SHARE this with your friends and family.
Join your friends or be the first to like our page