When Yoshiko Golden was pulled from high school in 1942 and
placed in an internment camp, she still expected to get her diploma someday –
she just didn’t know it would be 71 years later.
It finally happened Wednesday, when the 89-year-old received
an honorary diploma from the San Diego County Board of Education.
“It makes me feel good,” she said about the recognition.
Golden, who now lives in Imperial Beach, was attending high
school in Oxnard in 1942 when her family was moved to a relocation camp in
Arizona during World War II. She lived there with her parents and five siblings
for more than a year before she was released and moved to Chicago for a few
years before settling in the San Diego area.
The Board of Education presented her with the honorary diploma
at its regular meeting Wednesday as part of Operation Recognition, a statewide
program to honor those who didn’t finish high school because of war. Those
eligible include veterans of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War
as well as Japanese-Americans placed in internment camps during World War II.
Golden is the ninth person the San Diego County Board of
Education has given a diploma through Operation Recognition but the first who
was unable to finish high school because of internment.
Board member Mark Anderson, who presented the certificate to
Golden, said it was the most meaningful diploma he has given.
“Of all of the diplomas that I’ve had the pleasure of
handing out as a member of the board of education, this is my proudest,” he
After the ceremony, Golden donned a purple graduation robe
and proudly posed for pictures along with a group of family members who were
there to celebrate with her.
Susan Yamate, an ROP coordinator with the San Diego County
Office of Education, helped start Operation Recognition locally in 2004 after
hearing about a similar program in Sacramento. Yamate’s mother also was
interned in Arizona during World War II.
“I saw how my mom and others seemed to have a sense of
closure by receiving a diploma and recognition,” she said. “It was important to
me that the San Diego County Office of Education join the other county offices
of education around the state to support this cause.”
You can read more about Golden and the recognition on the
UT-San Diego website.