Floyd H. St. Clair waves to the crowd at the Westport Central School graduation June 23 after receiving an Operation Recognition diploma from school board president Alice LaRock and Superintendent Dr. John Gallagher.
A pair of local schools took time to honor veterans in their community and give them the one thing they left school without — a diploma.
AuSable Valley and Westport each gave Operation Recognition diplomas to local veterans. The program is designed to honor veterans who left school early for military service with diplomas and the chance to participate in a graduation ceremony.
Following the presentation of awards by Principal Michele Friedman and awarding of diplomas by Board of Education President Alice LaRock to graduating seniors in Westport June 23, Korean War veteran Floyd H. St. Clair was asked to step forward for an honorary diploma presentation.
Superintendent John Gallagher said a state program known as “Operation Recognition” allows veterans who missed their high school graduation because they were serving their country to be awarded an honorary high school diploma.
Gallagher thanked St. Clair for his service, and, as he handed him his diploma, the crowd stood and erupted with applause. St. Clair stood for a moment, a look of pride and respect on his face, and then made his way to his seat where he was hugged by a family member.
Matthew Rogers announced during the June 23 graduation ceremonies that the 2012 Operation Recognition veteran was Michael Morris, who left school early to enlist, fighting in Vietnam.
“After the war, he came here to a life of humility and hard work,” Rogers said.
Morris was unable to attend the graduation ceremonies but said that he was proud to be able to be called a graduate.
“He sends his best wishes and hopes for good luck in the future to all of his fellow classmates in the class of 2012,” Rogers said.