A graduate among us

The year was 1942.

America was engaged in the “War to End All Wars,” World War II.

We’ve since learned that there would be more fighting ahead for America. But that wasn’t what Houma resident Victor Michel and his classmates were preoccupied with.

For Michel and a number of teens across the country just like him, it was a time of patriotism and duty. No matter the cost.

So, when Uncle Sam delivered a draft notice to the high school student’s door, he did his part.

Michel said goodbye to his high school life. He traded his schoolbooks for a rifle and medic’s supplies. And with thousands of other soldiers, he did his part on the beaches and shores in Europe.

For the next three years, Michel bravely answered the call, providing medical treatment on the frontline of battle to his comrades.

Michel would safely return home to Terrebonne Parish. He married his sweetheart Irene. Now 88 and 80 respectively, the couple has been married for 61 years. They’ve raised 10 children and successfully made their way through life.

Imagine the pride Michel felt when just weeks ago he was able to complete the goal duty led him away from 65 years ago.

One of Houma’s most recent graduates, Michel and 19 other Tri-parish area residents were awarded honorary high school diplomas. State lawmakers bestowed degrees to World War II, Korean Conflict and Vietnam War veterans whose high school education was usurped by the nation’s need for soldiers.

An unassuming Michel, quietly and proudly, walked the aisle in the Louisiana Purchase Room of the Claiborne Building to receive his diploma. It’s just one more reminder of the great character of the generations that preceded us and the many lessons we can learn from them.

Well done, Mr. Michel. And thank you for your service.