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Jun 23, 2014 04:51 AM EDT

Californian Receives High School Diploma after 72 Years

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A California-based man realised his dream of wearing his school's graduation cap and gown after almost 72 years.

Don Miyada, now 89, was detained in an internment camp for Japanese-Americans a month before his graduation ceremony in 1942 at the Newport Harbor High School. At the age of 17, Miyada and his family, along with more than 17,000 other detainees, were sent to a desert land (several miles from the Colorado River) near Poston, Arizona, following the aftermath of Pearl Harbour bombings by the Japanese during the World War II, Huffington Post reports.

Miyada relocated to Michigan after two years in the Arizona camp where he was drafted into the U.S. Army. He was part of the European missions and many others. Miyada completed a doctorate in Chemistry from the Michigan State University and later served as a professor at the University of California, Irvine.

During the School's 2014 graduating ceremony, the retired University professor walked the stage along with 560 seniors. He received a standing ovation after being named as the inaugural member of the school's hall of fame.

"It's their time to graduate and their time of honor," Miyada said. "I'm happy they invited me to be one of them."

"It's more honor than I deserve. I'll be thankful to the Newport Harbor graduates that they included me in the graduation," LA Times reports.

Miyada still recollects his classes at the Newport Harbour, carefree attitude of him as well as fellow classmates and most importantly their excitement of graduating high school. Principal Sean Boulton even found a copy of the 1942 graduation program with Miyada's name on it.

"My name was on there," Miyada said. "I wasn't able to attend, of course, but my name was there anyway. It was very emotional."

Remembering those hard times, Miyada said that although President Franklin D. Roosevelt had signed Executive Order No. 9066 that instructed Japanese origin on the West Coast would be locked in relocation camps, he was shocked when it turned into reality.

"I never thought it would actually happen," Miyada said. "Being a citizen of the United States and taking civics classes, it surprised me that they were able to declare someone an enemy alien just with the sweep of a pen."

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