July 13, 2017 08:23 PM
It was an intimate gathering in Denfeld High School's auditorium, but one with big meaning.
"Mr. Hubert has earned his right as a Denfeld Hunter to receive his diploma," said Denfeld Principal, Tonya Sconiers at Thursday's ceremony for World War ll veteran, James Joseph Hubert.
Hubert would have been a 1939 Denfeld graduate. As a junior, he joined the Navy and later the U.S. Marine Corps. Not long after, he was killed in action in the Battle of Tarawa during World War ll. His remains were found in 2015.
Thursday, he was able to get the award he never got a chance to receive - his high school diploma.
"It's a wonderful honor," said Mary Hagan, James' sister, who accepted the award on his behalf."It was very emotional but I thank everybody from Denfeld who's put this together. It's very meaningful."
Dick Swanson with Denfeld's Alumni Association says as soon as they found out Hubert was one of their own, a memorial to honor him was needed.
"We thought it was very appropriate as someone from our community who is respected, who decided to go fight in World War two and for closure for the family when they found his remains," said Swanson.
A diploma, however, was not the only award going home with Hubert's family. He was also given the Honor D, the highest honor a graduating senior can get.
"It's in honor of his not only his service to our country, but also being a Denfeld hunter," said Sconiers.
To close the ceremony in true Denfeld tradition his name was added to decades of graduates in the school's bell tower.
"I'm sure my sister's name is up there and I'll be putting James name as close as I can get to her," said Hagan.
For Hagan, she says it's a day she never thought she'd see, and hopes this can be inspiration for others.
"They shouldn't really give up hope," said Hagan.
Hubert will be laid to rest this Saturday at Duluth's Calvary Cemetery. The ceremony is open to the public.
Updated: July 13, 2017 08:23 PM
Created: July 13, 2017 05:54 PM
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