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WWII veterans in Mississippi, including a 100-year-old man, receive high school diplomas

World War II veterans Herbert Jackson, 100, and Robert Joseph Jefferson, 95, were presented with honorary high school diplomas from the Vicksburg Warren School District Thursday as both joined the U.S. Army before completing high school.

“It was fantastic,” superintendent Chad Shealy said. “Of all the diplomas I’ve ever handed out that was definitely the most remarkable. Rarely do you get the opportunity to honor people who have honored you. To have two gentlemen, 95 and 100 years old, to be able to give them that diploma was something very special I will remember the rest of my life.”

Superintendent Chad Shealy presents World War II Veteran Herbert R. Jackson with a Honorary High School Diploma during the Vicksburg Warren School District Board meeting Thursday. Jackson served in the U.S. Army from August 28, 1940 through Oct. 21, 1945. Robert Joseph Jefferson was also presented with a Honorary High School Diploma, he served in the U.S. Army from Feb. 14, 1923 through Dec. 9, 1945. (Courtland Wells/The Vicksburg Post)

Jackson served in the U.S. Army from 1940 until 1945 and worked for the Ford Motor Company Assembly plant in California for 30 years.

“This was a surprise to me,” Jackson said. “I didn’t know all this was going to happen. I am happy and thankful. I am going to put it where it can be seen when everybody comes in.”

Jefferson served in the U.S. Army from 1943 until 1945. He is a retired mail carrier and worked at W.H. Jefferson Funeral Home.

“I just can’t hardly believe it and I appreciate it very much,” Jefferson said.

Jackson and Jefferson are both members of American Legion Post 213, as is board member Alonzo Stevens who organized the ceremony.

“It was awesome,” Stevens said. “It is a blessing and this is what patriotism is. We are trying to make America proud to be an American and those guys with no hatred just fought for their country and loved their country. After all these years to still have that love to their country, after all these years I think the least we can do is say thank you.”

Jefferson’s son Anthony Lewis said, “it was quite a surprise,” when the school board called and asked to present his dad with a diploma.

“One of the things daddy always strived on with all the children was getting your education and this culminates what he was talking about and his diploma will sit on the shelf with the rest of ours now,” Lewis said.

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