NEW GRADUATE: High School Diploma Seven Decades In The Making

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Yoshiko Golden is 89-years-old and finally received her High School Diploma.

Decades ago she couldn’t finish High School because she was sent to a Japanese Internment Camp.

She finally got it from the San Diego County office of education.

“I feel happy.  I don’t know what to say,” Golden said.

Yoshiko Golden is 89-years-old but today she’s just a giddy high school graduate.

“All of this is so exciting it kind of jars me a little bit,” she said.

Golden was born in Oxnard. In 1942, before she could finish high school she was sent to an Internment Camp with other Japanese Americans.

For almost two years she worked in the mess halls as a salad girl and sewed camouflage nets for the war effort.

“Just doing whatever they wanted, they wouldn’t let me do anything else anyways,” she said.

Japanese Americans weren’t allowed to return to the west coast during World War II so she went to Chicago.

But because she didn’t have a proper education she could only find work as a maid at the Bismarck Hotel.

Golden met her husband on the train ride to San Diego in 1949.  They settled in Imperial Beach and raised three children.  They had a happy life but something was missing.

All of that changed Wednesday at the San Diego County office of education.

Those in charge said it was the proudest diploma they’d ever given.

It’s part of the county’s Operation Recognition program.

The board can retroactively award high school diplomas to anyone whose high school studies were interrupted by war time activities.  That was something Golden and many other Japanese Americans were ashamed to admit.

“Most parents want their kids to have a better life and better things that they didn’t have.  In our case our mom is still alive and we thought this is her opportunity to have something she missed out on,” said Yoshiko’s son Olen Golden.

Even without the piece of paper, Golden learned a lot in her lifetime and now she said there is only one thing left to do.

“Maybe get a job… maybe,” she said, laughing.

The county’s Operation Recognition program honors Veterans of World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam.

Golden is the first person who lived in an Internment Camp to be honored.


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