Garrard veteran earns diploma at 80

November 12, 2004|BOBBIE CURD

More than a hundred veterans were honored Thursday at Garrard Middle School's Veterans Day Program, but one stole the show.

When Julian Lamb was called to report to the front, the crowd quickly arose to its feet, and the assembly started to echo with shouts and whistles.

Lamb is 80 years old and just receiving his high school diploma after two years of hard work and GED classes.

The Army veteran of World War II was presented his diploma by Joe Brown, chairman of the Board of Education.

A very modest Lamb stood by as the crowd continued to roar and cheer him on for a good two minutes.


Lamb had a friend read a word of thanks for him, and noted the support he's received throughout the process from so many, including Superintendent Ray Woolsey and the staff at the GED school.

The students and guests were invited to move through a reception line where they could greet and shake hands with the veterans; Lamb was seated at the very end, holding his diploma inside the leather-bound book he was given, and holding his hand out for the line.

"I didn't expect all of that commotion when I went up there ..." Lamb said with a gracious smile, "but I liked it!"

Peggy Couch stood nearby; she is a math teacher and the coordinator of the veterans observance since the founder Willie Graham, a retired teacher, passed the torch to her.

Couch said, "I really hope that he can be motivation for any other veterans that are out there without their diploma thinking it's too late."

Because of House Bill 45, any veteran who was drafted while in high school may go through the GED program to earn their actual diploma as opposed to a GED certificate.

"I'm so proud of him. I knew he was working toward it, but I didn't know he had it already. I'll tell you, a few little tears came to my eyes when they presented that to him," said Manford Bolton, an Army veteran and friend of Lamb's, who was standing nearby.

A steady flow of visitors continued to be drawn over to Lamb to congratulate him.

Bolton added, "I mean, at his age, all the work he's put through to get that diploma, through all of his illnesses. There really ought to be more vets out there who now see that it can be done."

"It is so important that these people get recognized for giving their time and leaving their home to go away and protect our county. They're so courageous," said Leslie Walter, who had read a poem to the crowd that she wrote titled "What I See in America."

Leslie was one of 13 eighth-graders who read or sung to the gathering.

Class sends out 275 letters to local veterans

The eighth-grade class started preparing for the big day back in September, sending out 275 letters to local veterans inviting them to the event.

"After the vets and guests finish the meal we've prepared for them, we're having 24 volunteer vets in different classrooms. All the eighth-graders will have the opportunity to meet and talk with six different vets for 15-minute intervals. We really think they'll get a lot out of this," Couch added.

The program, which is in its 11th year, is funded as a part of the Service Learning Program/Community Education and is entirely organized by the eighth-grade class.

The atmosphere was loud and proud as the GMS band played traditional patriotic songs sung by the school choir. Some songs were prefaced with an excerpt read by one of the presenting students which explained the origin of the piece.

Close to the end of the band performance, veterans were asked to stand when they heard the song that represented their branch of service.

The crowd continually clapped as the groups stood, some saluting continually as their song played.

"I called everyone I could," Couch laughed, "I really wanted to give these guys some gratitude and make sure that they know we're all proud of them."

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