Army rifleman George Hulka Jr. never earned his high school diploma. But today he will be honored by his country in a small yet meaningful way as part of a New York state initiative that allows certain veterans to obtain honorary high school diplomas -- even if they never graduated:
A 100-year-old Army veteran of World War II is finally getting his high school diploma — as is his great-grandson.
George Hulka Jr. made it to eighth grade at a one-room schoolhouse and worked on his family's dairy farm in the upstate New York town of Saratoga before being drafted ahead of the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941.
He went on to fight as a rifleman from North Africa to Germany, receiving a Bronze Star and several other medals.
But he never finished school.
On Saturday, 19-year-old Devin Stark will pick up his great-grandfather's diploma at graduation ceremonies in the Schuylerville School District. New York allows World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans who lived in the state but didn't graduate to get diplomas.
Hulka Jr. was a highly decorated combat veteran who served in both the European and African theaters of the war. He was there on D-Day, too. He’s an American hero, and I am glad that he will finally receive this small token of our nation's gratitude and appreciation. After all, it's the least we can do to honor his many years of military service -- don't you think?