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Joe Perricone, 95, finally got to walk in his cap and gown 76 years after receiving his diploma.

World War II Veteran Achieves Graduation Dream 76 Years Later

May 24, 2019 - Points of Pride

Joe Perricone received his high school diploma at Hillsborough High School in 1943. But he never achieved his dream of walking at graduation in a cap and gown with fellow classmates to celebrate his achievement.

That's because Perricone was already serving in the Army in World War II, and could not stay in town for his graduation. 

His diploma was mailed to his mother in 1943 while he was at Camp Blanding.

Now, 76 years later, Perricone took part in Saturday's graduation ceremony at Hillsborough High School where he finally got to put on a cap and gown and celebrate with his family.

"Wow. I never thought I'd be wearing one of these," Perricone said upon receiving his red cap and gown. 

Perricone's grandson, circuit Judge Thomas Palermo, is the one who contacted the school board to inquire about having Perricone participate in graduation.

"Over the last 43 years, my grandfather has talked over and over again about not having walked across the stage to graduate," said Palermo. 

Finally, his dream came true. 

Perricone had some advice for students in the class of 2019. 

"Do the absolute best you can, plus 10 percent," Perricone said. 

Perricone served in the U.S. Army in the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Denmark, and Germany.