WWII vet walks at high school graduation

BELEN (KRQE) – Luis Silva is a Belen resident, a WWII veteran and a great-grandfather. Now he has a new title, high school graduate.

Getting his high school diploma was something Silva had to put off to serve his country.

The 90-year-old went to work at 15. He’d work overnights on the railway and show up for class at Belen High School every morning.

Before he could graduate though, Silva was drafted into the Army and sent to war in 1943.

“I always liked school and I wanted someday to graduate,” Silva said.

Instead, Silva found himself at Omaha Beach on D-Day. Graduation was pushed to the back of his mind.

“During the war I didn’t think that I was going to make it home,” Silva said.

Silva did make it home to Belen. He got married, raised four kids and watched as his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren graduated high school.

Silva’s daughter, Lora Marez, said Belen High’s principal was more than happy to help make Silva’s dream finally come true.

“This is an honor and something he’s always wanted to do all his life, and not many people get to redo it or go back and get it,” Marez said.

About 60 members of Silva’s family were there as he made his way across the stage Tuesday night to receive his diploma, seven decades after his classmates.

“I feel excited, happy,” Silva said. “I’m very proud.”

Silva’s great granddaughter also graduated Tuesday night.

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