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 Operation Recognition Honors Woman Interned During WWII


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 said.

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.