In conjunction with Memorial Day (May 26) and May being "Older Americans Month," the Sacramento County Board of Education awarded diplomas to 18 senior citizens in a graduation ceremony on May 20, 2003. The ceremony, held in the Board chambers of the Sacramento County Office of Education, celebrated the accomplishments and contributions of persons whose education was interrupted due to circumstances of World War II or the Korean War. It was the third such ceremony conducted by the Sacramento County Board of Education since the start of its Operation Recognition program in October 2001.
A crowd numbering close to 200 witnessed the presentation of Operation Recognition diplomas at the May 20th ceremony. The gathering was opened by a flag ceremony conducted by the R.O.T.C. Junior Air Force color guard of Valley High School, under the direction of Colonel William Norman and Master Sergeant Rudy Garcia. Board of Education President Brian Cooley provided a brief overview of the Operation Recognition program and gave a special welcome to Sacramento County Veterans Service Officer Jeff Pealer, who has been instrumental in the success of the Sacramento County Operation Recognition program. With the assistance of County Superintendent of Schools Dr. David P. Meaney, President Cooley then presented diplomas to the honorees. Individuals honored posthumously were represented by family members. At the close of the ceremony, the recipients posed for photos and were invited by President Cooley to attend a reception in their honor. Punch and a red-white-and-blue cake were served to guests by local high school students. The cake was provided by SCOE Regional Occupational Program Director Rick Bergman, a member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. The presentation cases enclosing the diplomas were contributed by Peter M. Ward of Jostens.
Area TV, print, and radio representatives were present to capture the ceremony and reception, which participants, family members, and friends described as "inspiring" and "emotional." One veteran said in an interview that while he had gone ahead and made a life for himself after World War II, he had always felt he'd "missed out by not finishing high school. [My diploma] may be 60 years late, but it's still very important to me." Others echoed that sentiment.
Operation Recognition is being conducted by the Sacramento County Office of Education and by numerous other county offices of education.
May 20, 2003, Diploma Recipients
- William C. Anderson (US Army, WWII) resident of Elk Grove
- John Bollman (US Army, WW II) resident of Carmichael z Carl John Dahlberg (US Navy, WW II) resident of Carmichael
- Harold P. Fong, Sr. (US Army Air Force, WW II) resident of Midtown area of Sacramento
- Joseph Gomez (US Army, WW II) resident of Citrus Heights
- Wesley J. "Chuck" Holden (US Navy, WW II, Korean War) resident of Carmichael
- Carl J. Keehn* (US Coast Guard, WW II) represented by widow Gloradeen Keehn of Carmichael
- Richard W. Lee (US Navy, Korean War) resident of Fair Oaks
- Alex O. Lopez (US Army, WW II) resident of Florin area of Sacramento
- Pasquale "Pat" Muzzillo (US Marine Corps, WW II) resident of Fair Oaks
- Joe Nasagawa (US Army, Korean War; also WW II internee) resident of La Riviera/Larchmont area of Sacramento
- Robert Nobuyuki Oda (WW II internee) resident of Florin area of Sacramento
- Albert Stinson (US Army, WW II) resident of Oak Park area of Sacramento
- Shiro "Albert" Tahara (WW II internee) resident of South Land Park area of Sacramento
- Alfred M. Thomsen (US Navy, WW II) resident of Citrus Heights
- Stanley Tufts (US Navy, WW II) resident of Carmichael
- Moses E. Turner* (US Army, Korean War) represented by daughter Venice Jenkins of the Hagginwood/Del Paso Heights area of Sacramento
- Harry S. Winston (US Army, WW II) resident of Orangevale
* Awarded posthumously