89-year-old woman gets high school diploma

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SAN DIEGO– It took more than 70 years, but a local woman finally received the high school diploma she was denied during World War II.

Yoshiko Golden is 89-years-old and never got her diploma because she was sent to a Japanese internment camp in 1942.

On Wednesday, Golden was handed that diploma at the San Diego County Office of Education.

“I feel happy. I don’t know what to say,” Golden said. “All of this is so exciting. It kind of jars me a little bit.”

Golden and her family members were sent away shortly after the U.S. entered WWII. For almost two years she worked in the mess halls as a salad girl and she sewed camouflage nets for the war effort.

“[I was just] doing whatever they wanted, they wouldn’t let me do anything else anyway,” Golden said.

Golden met her husband on a train from Chicago to San Diego in 1949.  They settled down and raised three children.

Golden received the diploma as part of the county’s Operation Recognition Program.

The board can retroactively award high school diplomas to anyone whose high school studies were interrupted by wartime activities like veterans of WWII, the Korean War and Vietnam.

“Most parents want their kids to have a better life, better things they didn’t have. In our case, Mom is still alive and we thought ‘here’s her opportunity to have something she missed out on,’” Golden’s son Olen Golden said.

Golden said there is only one thing left to do now that she has a diploma: “get a job… maybe.”