An 84-year-old U.S. Army veteran from Mississippi joined students from Port Gibson High School to receive his high school diploma on Friday.
Jerry Moon got the chance to walk across the stage, shake the high school principal’s hand, and receive his diploma.
“It’s unbelievable, it’s just unbelievable,” Moon told WLBT. “I’m just so thrilled I don’t know what to do.”
Moon’s high school graduation was 63 years in the making.
In March 1958, Moon was a soldier in the U.S. Army and had just passed his GED that year. However, Moon said he never got a signed copy of his GED because the Army had misplaced it.
That same year, Moon received a discharge from the military and went back home to Mississippi. In October 1958, he received his GED in the mail.
The veteran took it to his local high school principal, asking if he could get his diploma, but the principal said something was missing.
”[The principal] took it out, he took one look at it, and he said, ‘No, I can’t do that,’” Moon recalled. “I said why not? He said, ‘Because your company commander didn’t sign it.’”
After six decades of trying to get the right people to sign his paperwork, his efforts paid off.
In April 2021, a major in the Army National Guard signed his GED paperwork, so the next step was getting a high school principal to grant him a diploma.
Dr. Kelvin Fuller, the principal at Port Gibson High School, was happy to honor Moon’s request.
Moon joined 94 other students in the class of 2021 at the high school to receive their diplomas on Friday.
“I think it’s closure,” said Darryl Moon, Jerry’s son. “All of his life he’s been trying to get this diploma in his hands. He never gave up on it, you know, and he said he wasn’t going to give up on it. It’s just a big relief, and he’s just on cloud nine.”
Moon is not the first veteran to receive a high school diploma years after military service.
In May 2020, a 91-year-old veteran from Ohio received his high school diploma alongside his great-grandson, and in September 2020, an 84-year-old Marine veteran received his high school diploma 66 years after he joined the military to fight in the Korean War.