LIBERTY, N.Y. -- Thousands of students throughout the Hudson Valley walked across the stage Saturday with a diploma in hand, but while their years of schooling may have seemed like a long time, it's nothing compared to Edward Palmer's patience.
“I’m 89 years old and I’m still plugging along,” said Palmer, a World War II veteran.
In 1944, Palmer left high school before he could graduate to join the Army. He fought on the European front in World War II, where he earned a Purple Heart.
"I got shot six times. I was in the hospital a whole year before I got out,” Palmer said.
After all these years, Palmer was still missing one thing: a high school diploma. Earlier this year a friend reached out to Liberty High School on behalf of Palmer, helping him receive a diploma through Operation Recognition.
"It was very easy. Just take the paperwork that he received from the military and I said, you are going to be coming to graduation," said Assistant Superintendent Carol Napolitano, Liberty Central School.
“It was very most of a big surprise for me when they told me that I was going to get a diploma,” Palmer said.
On Saturday morning, the long-awaited moment finally became a reality as Palmer walked across the stage and received his diploma.
“I do my best, I do my best,” Palmer said.
“To think that so many years passed, and we at Liberty were able to make this happen is his dream come true,” Napolitano said.
With a diploma now in hand, many of these students will now be heading off to college, but others will be joining the military like Palmer.
“I’m going into the Air Force for six years, assigned for,” said Summer Bitjeman, a Class of 2015 graduate. “Just seeing he could go through all that and graduate at the end is very inspirational.”
“I think the touching part was after all the graduates left, the people that came to share their gratitude and to also congratulate him, I think that more than any speaks volumes,” Napolitano said.
As for what's next, Palmer, well he plans on putting that diploma to work.
“I think I’m going to go look for a job,” Palmer said.
For man that has accomplished so much, you just never know.