95-Year-Old World War II Vet Finally Graduates High School And Earns A Diploma

Nov 24th, 2021

Education is one of the greatest achievements that one could ever achieve. That is why just before Veteran’s Day 2021, a World War II veteran returned to his old high school just to finish some unfinished business.

Louis Picariello was only 18-years-old when he was attending Needham High School in Massachusetts class of 1944. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it to graduation since after his 18th birthday in March 1944, Louis joined the Marines.

And during the war, Louis worked as a heavy equipment operator. And he continued that work after the war and never get to finish high school. Life events never gave Louis the chance to go back and graduate. He became busy with his big family. And today, he has three children, eight grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

Then one time, Louis has been spending time with friends from the local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). After learning that he did not make it to his graduation, they encouraged him to reach out to his old high school and see if they could do something about it.

And of course, Superintendent Daniel Gutekanst and Principal Aaron Sicotte were happy to help make this long-time dream happen. Finally, 77 years later, Louis is going to graduate!

Superintendent Gutekanst said, “We’re really honored that 77 years later, Louis, 77 years later we can present you with a lifetime learning diploma, representing not only your time at Needham High School but a life well lived with an amazing family and, obviously, so many friends and colleagues.”

And when Louis was presented with his high school diploma the day before Veterans Day, he can’t help but feel emotional. He said, “I can’t believe this. Everybody went out of their way and I appreciate it.”

His family and friends came to celebrate with him. Among those is Louis’ lifelong friend, Albert Mercuri. Even though they lost touch during the war when Albert was stationed in Africa and Louis in the Pacific, they reunited a few years later. Albert said, “I’m proud of him. We grew up together, we’re both 95 years old.”

Michael Greis, the Needham School Committee shared a Tweet of the veteran as he posed for a photo with his Highschool Diploma. He wrote: “Louis Picariello, Needham HS Class of 1944, left before graduation to join the Marine Corps and serve in the Pacific in WWII. Today – 77 years later – @NPS_Supt Dan Gutekanst & NHS Principal @Sicotte22 presented Louis with his diploma. Congratulations, Louis, and thank you!”

The Washington Examiner also shared this momentous event in the veterans’ life. They wrote: “Officials at Needham High School presented Louis Picariello, 95, with the diploma on the Marine Corps’s 246th birthday, the day before #VeteransDay. ‘I can’t believe this. Everybody went out of their way and I appreciate it,’ he said.”

This moment was extra special for Louis because he did not only receive his diploma but did this on the 246th anniversary of the Marine Corps is founded. Louis’ son, Michael, also shared what this meant to his dad. He said, “It’s been a bucket list item, most recently in the last few years.”

This kind of achievement might not seem much for some, but for Louis, this means the world to him. Circumstances may have delayed for this to happen, but thanks to the encouragement that he kept receiving, he finally ticked this one off his bucket list.