It was Oscar Wilde who said that one can never be overdressed or overeducated. Those words are quite true, as education is something that looks good in all forms.
Whether you’re a high school graduate or a PhD candidate, education is something that you can personalize at any age. One 87-year-old named Edward Sanders from Jackson, Michigan is living proof of just that.
The elderly gentleman was part of the graduating Class of 2020 this past summer, alongside his great-great-niece, Alex Bissell.
Sanders explained to MLive that his high school diploma was made possible thanks to a Michigan state act which allows local school boards to award high school diplomas to World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War veterans who had to leave school in order to fight in those wars.
Back when Sanders was halfway through his junior year of high school, the 18-year-old dropped out and went on to become an Air Force B-47 bomber pilot, serving in the Korean War in 1952. He first began learning how to fly when he was 15 through a local flight school. The initial rush made him feel like he was the “king of the world,” and by 16 he was able to fly solo. It was his newfound passion for flying that made him drop out of high school and join the Air Force when the Korean War began.
In an interview with MLive, he said, “Next thing I knew I was in Korea, wishing I was back in Jackson.”
He served in active duty for four years, before doing another four years in the reserves. Then, he left the service and returned to his hometown of Jackson, Michigan, where he married a fellow Jackson resident named Patricia.
Together, the couple had three kids, and eventually, they had five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Following his service in the military, Sanders never flew again. Instead, he worked in factory jobs, eventually retiring from Ann Arbor Tool.
It wasn’t until 2020 that the idea to contact his almost-alma mater, Jackson High School, came up. Sanders admitted, “I never dreamed I could do it. I’d given up on it.” But the school principal was more than happy to make his graduation dream come true. In a happy twist, he was able to join his great-great-niece as they both were awarded their high school diplomas during a socially distanced outdoor commencement ceremony.
The Aug. 8, 2o2o ceremony was held outside because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the gathering restrictions surrounding it.
But his family was happy to share the news of his graduation, posting to Facebook, “We are so proud of this Korean War Veteran. He has just turned 87 and finally received his High School diploma from Jackson High School. We are so very happy and proud of Edward Sanders … Congratulations.”
Watch the video of him detailing his life post-war below: