Some things in life really are worth the wait.
Over 70 years ago, 17-year-old Vincent Golembiowski of Clyde, Ohio, was faced with a tough decision. The U.S. was gearing up to go to war in Korea, and Vincent could either enlist and choose his fate or wait to be drafted.
“We had a choice,” Vincent said. “If we waited and graduated, we would have been inducted into the Army, but if we went ahead of time, we could pick what service we wanted.”
He took charge of his destiny and dropped out of high school to join the Air Force in 1949. He served for four years during the Korean War, becoming a crew chief on an F-86 fighter jet. When he returned to his hometown at long last, he got a job with the Whirlpool Corporation and eventually became deputy sheriff for Sandusky County. He went on to marry his wife Laurene, and they had children together and lived a quiet life.
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One thing he never got around to was finishing high school, although at 88 years old, he still keeps in touch with the six remaining members of Clyde High School’s class of 1950.
One day, his son, Michael Golembiowski, was watching a local news program about a senior citizen receiving their college degree. The story got him thinking about his own father and the sacrifice he had made all those years ago.
So Michael reached out to the Clyde-Green Springs School District, and the school agreed that it was past time to award the veteran a diploma! On Christmas day, Michael broke the news to his father about his upcoming “graduation” ceremony.
“You got to be kidding me,” Vincent cried as he held back tears. “Wow!”
A few weeks later, he attended a school board meeting so the principal of Clyde High School, Joe Webb, and other administrators could officially welcome Vincent into the class of 1950. Unlike the rest of his peers, Vincent’s grandchildren got to be there to witness his big moment.
“I had to be here, because how often do you get to see your grandfather get his diploma?” his granddaughter, Krista Hernandez, said.
“He left school to enter the Korean War and serve our country,” Principal Webb added. “And whenever you get the chance to honor somebody who has dedicated to our country to that extent, it’s special, and so we feel great for Vince and his family tonight.”
As for Michael, he said, “My dad’s always done so much for us. I mean, he’s always there, so it’s just a way of, you know, being able to return something. I know it’s always been missing in his life.”
Vincent was obviously touched and even brought his sense of humor to the situation: “I never, ever, at 88 years old… I had no idea at all something like this is possible. But boy, I’m totally grateful. Now I can go out and get a job. I got a diploma.”
Vincent hopes other people will see his story and realize it’s never too late to cross things off your bucket list. “Don’t ever give up,” he said. “If this can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.”
Words of wisdom, to be sure! Share Vincent’s wonderful message with your friends to encourage them.
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