Tuesday 21 October 2014

Man graduates - 72 years late

Published 22/06/2014 | 20:42

Don Miyada, 89, walked with the class of 2014 at Newport Harbor High School after missing out his own graduation 72 years ago

A California man who missed his 1942 high school graduation because he was locked in an internment camp for Japanese-Americans finally walked in a cap and gown - more than seven decades after he was pulled out of class just a month shy of his big day.

Don Miyada, now 89, joined Newport Harbor High School's 2014 graduating class on stage and received a standing ovation when he was hailed as an inaugural member of the school's hall of fame, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Mr Miyada was 17 when he was sent with his family and more than 17,000 other detainees to a patch of desert land near Poston, Arizona, shortly after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor during the Second World War. A teacher later sent him a letter expressing shock that he couldn't finish high school and included a diploma - but Mr Miyada always regretted that he missed the celebration.

In May, Miyada met Newport Harbor's principal, Sean Boulton, during a Memorial Day service at the high school and Mr Boulton invited him to walk with the 560 seniors who would be graduating. Mr Boulton even found a copy of the programme from what would have been Mr Miyada's graduation day in 1942.

"My name was on there," Mr Miyada said. "I wasn't able to attend, of course, but my name was there anyway. It was very emotional."

After two years in the camp, Mr Miyada moved to Michigan, where he was drafted. He went on to serve in the U. Army in Europe and then earned a doctorate in chemistry from Michigan State University. He eventually became a professor at the University of California, Irvine.

During lthe graduation ceremonies, Mr Miyada returned the letter he had received from his teacher and thanked the teenagers who were crossing the stage with him.

"It's their time to graduate and their time of honour," he said. "I'm happy they invited me to be one of them."

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