Veteran Graduates High School With Grandson 51 Years After Dropping Out to Serve

graduateIt's only fitting that a 67-year-old military veteran graduated from high school on the same stage as his grandson in the same week that Disney's Brave is dominating the box office. The movie asks kids and parents to set aside their pride to get ahead in life. That's exactly what Russell Leigh did.

At 67, the US Navy veteran could have said he didn't need a high school diploma. After all, he managed to serve our country as a nuclear power electrician aboard submarines without one. And yet, the New York State resident took the higher road.


The Navy vet was able to graduate thanks to a New York State program that allows World War II, Korean, and Vietnam War Veterans who didn’t finish high school to get the paper based on high school equivalency. The program in and of itself is pretty darn amazing. The number of people who gave up the dream of a diploma in order to serve our country is staggering.

But I can't imagine how hard it is for some of those folks to take the state up on its offer. With all the work they've put in, they are our country's heroes, and yet, to go back to a high school, to graduate with a bunch of snot-nosed kids, means admitting that they gave up something important to do so. It means saying, hey, my choice was good, but I still want something more.

It means setting aside your pride.

Russell Leigh humbled himself to put on the same cap and gown that his teenage grandson, Mike Allen, was wearing. He admitted the choice he made at 16 to drop out of school -- a full 51 years ago -- might have served him well, but he had regrets. And he made up for it before it was too late.

If he can do that, just imagine what you can do if you set your pride aside.

What does Russell Leigh inspire you to do today?


Image via CarbonNYC/Flickr

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