A Japanese-American couple who were plucked from their California high school during World War Two and forcibly detained at a U.S. government internment camp were given honorary diplomas this week at the school's graduation ceremony.
George and Miko Kaihara, both 90, were presented with their diplomas in Tustin High School near Irvine, outside Los Angeles, to a standing ovation from a crowd of several thousand people on Thursday, school district spokesman Mark Eliot said.
They would have graduated from the school on June 23, 1943.
"It really feels like graduating," Miko Kaihara told local broadcaster ABC7. To another local media outlet, the Orange County Register, she said about the diploma: "I want to show it off."
The U.S. government forcibly detained more than 110,000 people in 10 such internment camps set up across the U.S. West after the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Both George and Miko Kaihara were juniors at then-named Tustin Union High School when they were interned at Poston camp in Arizona in May 1942.
The couple, married in 1950 and who now have four sons and seven grandchildren, completed their secondary schooling during their three-year stay at the camp.
"To each class we had to take our chair or stool along," Miko Kaihara told ABC7. "We got our diploma in Poston, we were the first graduating class."
The graduation ceremony 72 years later came after a former classmate reconnected with the couple and called their alma mater, which arranged the ceremony, Eliot said.
"It was really important to us, because I know it's always been their dream to receive a diploma from Tustin High," Eliot said.