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101-year-old World War II veteran finally 'graduates' after missing his graduation ceremony 80 years ago

He wasn't able to attend his 1943 graduation at Cornell College and receive his degree in music due to the war

101-year-old World War II veteran finally 'graduates' after missing his graduation ceremony 80 years ago
Cover Image Source: Facebook | Cornell College

You are always allowed to complete your journey irrespective of where you left it, when you left it and why you left it. This 101-year-old veteran graduating after 80 years is living proof of that. Fred Taylor, who lives in California, was a member of the Army Air Corps Reserve during WWII. As a result, he was unable to attend his 1943 graduation at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, where he expected to receive his degree in music, reports Good Morning America. On May 14, Cornell College posted on Facebook, "Today we have a special guest who is graduating with our Class of 2023. Eighty years ago, Fred Taylor ’43 missed his Cornell Commencement ceremony because he left to serve in WWII—flying fighter planes. He's now 101 years old and finishing what he started. He walked the stage to get his diploma and led the class in moving their tassels. Congratulations, Fred and welcome back!"


 
 
 
 
 
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Fred Taylor had the opportunity to walk alongside other graduates, thanks to his daughter, Linda Taylor. Linda, a professor who is no stranger to graduation ceremonies, gave her father tickets to Iowa so he could finally attend his long-delayed graduation ceremony." "Linda mentioned this idea a long time ago," Fred Taylor told Cornell College news post. "But it was a big surprise to me that she had gone ahead and made the arrangements to do it. So, of course, I'm surprised and excited about it." Linda Taylor added, "You know that feeling when you give somebody you love something really special that delights them and delights you even more? It's just going to be a super happy time and for somebody who is closing in on 102, what are we waiting for?... Better late than never, I think!"


 
 
 
 
 
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Taylor's time at Cornell College shaped important aspects of his life. It was there that he completed his music degree (he would later earn a master's degree in music education at Drake University and work as a music teacher for many years before retiring) and met his future wife Peggy Newberg during their senior year. Despite the fact that his father was able to drive to the school to pick up his diploma while he was in the military, Taylor said the ceremony brought everything full circle. "Cornell shaped the rest of my life," he said. Despite the fact that Taylor completed his music degree requirements at Cornell, he vividly recalls what happened on that special day. "Shortly after the Pearl Harbor attack, I and a number of my friends at Cornell joined the Army Air Corps Reserve because we’d rather be in the Air Corps than a foot soldier. The Army Reserves, then, were activated in February of my senior year. On February 19, 1943, we had to leave and went to Jefferson Barracks in Missouri for basic training."



 

 

He was one of 13 students from the 1943 graduating class who were chosen for military service. "That really felt like an 'incomplete' when I had to leave Cornell College in February of my senior year... it (ceremony) really ties the ribbon on it makes me feel like now it's complete," said Taylor to ABC News affiliate KCRG. "He had not been able to process/participate in commencement because of his service... He's an emblem of what we try to accomplish and what we hope to see in all of our students and graduates. He has, for his entire life, really been focused on supporting and helping others," expressed Cornell College President, Jonathan Brand.



 

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