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Vietnam Veteran Graduates From High School at 60 Years Old

In Colorado this weekend, hundreds of high school seniors turned their tassels and graduated — one of them had just been waiting for it longer than the others. Forty-two years longer, to be exact. Dennis Collins, now 60, walked across the stage on Saturday and collected the diploma that he'd sacrificed by heading off to Vietnam in 1966.

Collins says of his decision to go, “Vietnam was becoming a big issue. It was just kind of what you did. I was raised to believe you served your country and whenever you got out, you served your community.” He continues, “In Vietnam, you didn’t like it or not like it. It was something you did because it was something your country said to do. … It was my duty to do it, and I did it.” To see how Collins was able to graduate and more scenes from this Memorial Day,

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The program that allowed Collins to get his diploma is called Operation Recognition. It was enacted in 2003 and authorizes veterans from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam to receive their high school diplomas. The program recognizes the “sacrifice and contribution of those who honorably served our country."

Collins graduating class was delighted to have him. “They all applauded. I didn’t ask them to do that. They had an excitement all of their own. … It was exciting to me the students showed that enthusiasm. I think it did mean something to them.” said their high school principal. Collins was thankful to everyone who made his graduation possible. He said, "Most of all, I want to thank the kids for taking on an old fart like me. They’re making an old man’s dream come true.”

Colorado remembered Dennis Collins service — here are some more scenes of remembrance from around the country this Memorial Day.


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Join The Conversation
kikidawn kikidawn 7 years
This is an awesome accomplishment for the man and a very touching story!
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 7 years
This is a wonderful story. :)
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 7 years
This is a wonderful story. :)
Kimpossible Kimpossible 7 years
awww how great! I'm so happy for him!
CitizenSugar CitizenSugar 7 years
I think because Operation Recognition was just passed in 2003, it is taking a while to catch up. According to the story, a bunch of vets also received their diplomas in 2005. I think it's a great idea! I love his quote about being an old fart. So touching and funny.
stiletta stiletta 7 years
Great story. Very touching and perfect for Memorial Day. I just wonder why it took him until 60 to be allowed to receive his diploma?
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