A whopping eight decades after missing his college graduation ceremony, a 101-year-old veteran of World War II finally got to go up on stage and receive a well earned diploma on May 14, in the town of Mount Vernon, Iowa. How cool is that?
“I think 16 million altogether,” Taylor continued. “I have no regrets about going into the service.” The vet said, “I really enjoyed flying. My only regret is missing my graduation ceremony, as you normally would end your senior year.”
Taylor walked with a group of over 200 students from the Cornell College Class of 2023, who fully welcomed into their class and graduation ceremony.
“Every time I mentioned his name — standing ovation,” Jonathan Brand, the president of Cornell College, stated during a phone interview with Fox News.
“It was heartwarming. It was emotional. It brought full circle his own connection with Cornell,” the college president continued. “He’s gracious, humble, articulate, warm, loving. He is everything that one could ever hope a Cornellian would be.”
Brandt added, “I think there was love for him because of his connection to Cornell, because of his military service, because of his endurance.”
Taylor had completed all of the requirements to receive a degree in music from Cornell College, but alas, before he could graduate, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the event that launched America into World War II, leading many folks in his generation to have to put a hold on plans they had for their future.
“Some friends and I joined the Army Air Corp Reserve because we wanted to fly rather than be foot soldiers,” Taylor explained.
“On Feb. 19, 1943, of my senior year, the Air Corp Reserves were activated and we had to leave the college for basic training in Jefferson Barracks in Missouri. So, of course, we missed our graduation ceremony and that was a very incomplete feeling,” the World War II pilot said.
At that time, his father had to drive 10 miles to campus in order to retrieve his diploma while he was gone.
Earlier this year, Linda Taylor, the veteran’s daughter — who is a professor at the University of Miami — got in contact with people at Cornell College and asked if there was any way her dad might walk across the stage in order to have the ceremony he missed while serving his country in the most important war of all time.
“To find out that we [had] a student who, 80 years ago, missed that culminating moment in his life to actually celebrate the completion of his study — there’s sort of this feeling that something wasn’t finished,” Brand told Fox News. “Here’s somebody who served our country during World World War II, somebody who left college so that he could help literally save the world from the greatest threat. What a wonderful way to honor him in front of our students.”
“I was thinking … finally,” Taylor stated, giving a hearty chuckle. “It was exhilarating and sparked a lot of memories. I was also thinking of my 75-and-a-half-year marriage.”
The training Taylor received while in the military took him all over the nation, including a stop in Colorado Springs where he ended up getting hitched to “the love of his life,” Peggy Newberg. He first met Newberg at Cornell. Sadly, his beloved passed away in 2020.
After his time of service came to an end, Taylor earned a graduate degree in music from Drake University and went on to become a music teacher. He eventually moved to California where he taught for two and a half decades.
During the long overdue ceremony, Taylor led every student in the crowd in moving their tassels from right to left.
“After the ceremony, Taylor traveled to Drake University in Des Moines, where there was a small get-together with the president, the provost and several other faculty and administrators who presented him with his master’s degree in music education,” Fox News said.
Featured image screenshot taken from embedded video.
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