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World War II veteran Alvin Kind has finally received his high school diploma.

On April 13, the Waukesha School District presented Private Kind, 88, with an honorary high school diploma from Waukesha South High School.

Kind was enlisted and drafted in the U.S. Army in 1946 just one English credit away from graduating in his hometown of La Crosse. Although the high school that Kind attended isn't around anymore and no transcripts for those students exist, the family had an old year book showing Kind as a senior in 1945, and his son, Allen Kind, said he had walked in the school's graduation ceremony.

Family secret

'As a family we always just kind of assumed he had it (his degree),' said Allen, a teacher at Horning Elementary School.

Kind received an honorable discharge in November 1946, a year after being enlisted, and was issued a World War II Victory Medal on March 6, 1948.

'The last bombs that dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki happened about a week before him turning 18,' Allen said, 'The war was more or less over, but in 1945-1946 the draft was still in effect because of the instability in that region.'

But, after his discharge, his father never followed through on his intention to get that final academic credit he needed to graduate high school.

Kind kept his secret of never receiving a high school diploma from his wife and children up until a few weeks ago.

'We were surprised when he told us. He always stressed the importance of education,' said his son Gary Kind.

All three of Kind's children attended college and received undergraduate degrees, and Gary and Allen both have master's degrees.

Class of 88 (years old)

Allen was the first one in the family to realize that his dad didn't have his diploma, and after talking with his brother Gary, they realized that they could do something.

Gary is a teacher in Michigan where he knew of legislation that retroactively granted veterans with degrees, so he contacted the School District of Waukesha and found that under Wisconsin state law, local school boards may award a high school diploma to veterans who left high school to join the U.S. armed forces during a statutorily designated war period, according to the news release.

Assistant Superintendent Joe Koch shared the good news with the family and delivered the diploma to Kind in person.

'It was very exciting,' Allen said. 'It was a very emotional experience.'

Allen, like his father now, graduated from Waukesha South in 1986 and was emotional at getting to see his dad graduate, especially at 88 years old and in ill health. (Alvin has advanced stage prostate cancer.)

'How many people get to see their parents graduate,' he said, 'I'm even a little choked up now thinking about it. It was emotional for my dad as well.'

During the ceremony. Alvin Kind said that he had always planned on going back, according to Allen, but work and family obligations took precedent, and he expressed gratitude toward having a law like this allowing him to get his diploma after 70 years.

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