FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) -- On June 8th, Carroll High School will graduate approximately 450 students from its senior class. One of those who will be receiving a diploma will stand-out from his peers. 80-year-old Marine Corps veteran, LeRoy Blessing, will put on a cap and gown, and receive the diploma that has been 62 years in the making.
LeRoy Blessing attended Arcola School when he was growing up. When he was a junior at Arcola, he decided to enlist in the Marine Corps one year before receiving his high school diploma. LeRoy Blessing says that he “wanted an adventure.” From 1950 until 1970, Mr. Blessing served with the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th Marine Corps Divisions. He specialized in operating mortars, and served in the Korean War, Okinawa, and two tours in Vietnam. He retired from the Marine Corps as a Captain, and currently resides north of Orlando, Florida.
Earlier this year, LeRoy Blessing found the desire to get his high school diploma and sought assistance from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. During the process, he found out the place where he would have received his diploma from, Arcola School, no longer exists. Arcola Elementary currently sits where Arcola School once stood, and so Northwest Allen County Schools is honored to help Mr. Blessing’s dream come true.
On Monday, during a tour of Arcola Elementary, Mr. Blessing reflected on how much the school has changed by saying; “It is refreshing to come back and see the changes. It was a small school and now it’s not so small. The entrance coming in is what I remember, and the gym.”
Mr. Blessing’s memories of his childhood are still vivid. He remembers his first teacher at Arcola, as well as the Principal, and where his classrooms used to be located. “I lived the history instead of learning it from a book” says Blessing. One such memory is of the time he stood watch over the casket of President John F. Kennedy while his remains were lying in state.
Even though LeRoy Blessing left high school early, he still believes in the value of an education. “It is quite an honor. I hope I can hold in my emotions. I might have one or two tears that fall” says Blessing. His original class only had 13 students in it, now he will walk with 450 CHS graduates.“
It is something I never accomplished. I think I have received what is needed to get a diploma” says Blessing.
After receiving his diploma, LeRoy Blessing’s plans are to simply “relax.”
Commencement for Carroll High School will be held at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum on Saturday, June 8th at 7 p.m..
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