95-year-old, Claremore-area Veteran Lewie Shaw finally received his high school diploma, thanks to Claremore High School.
Born and raised around Chelsea, Oklahoma, Shaw attended a school that now sits at the bottom of Oologah Lake.
While history class was interesting, Shaw hated Algebra and sitting still.
“I wasn’t headed for graduation because I was too hard-headed,” Shaw said. “I never needed it.”
At 18, Shaw received his draft, and left school to join up with the U.S. Marine Corps.
Shaw served in the battles of Tinian, Saipan and Iwo Jima, battles that claimed so many American lives.
When he returned home, Shaw married the love of his life, Alice. They were together for 65 years before she passed away in 2012.
“I’ve lived a dull life, worked hard, had a wonderful marriage of 65 years,” Shaw said. “My advice is to keep clawing, keep digging, get that education.”
Despite never completing his own, Shaw was a big proponent of education for his children and grandchildren.
Thursday morning, Claremore students gathered in the gymnasium to pay tribute to Shaw.
Claremore NJROTC Commanding Officer Katrina Sherrick said, “We can never fully repay our debt to the more than 650,000 American service members who died in battle or the 1.4 million who were wounded. We can, however, recognize and thank the 25 million veterans still living today.”
“The price of freedom is high,” Sherrick said. “We cannot afford to forget those willing to pay for it.”
The Claremore Band and Choir both performed patriotic numbers in honor of Shaw and the other service members in the room.
“Mr. Shaw, All of Claremore High School is here today to participate in your Claremore High School graduation. Today we add to that great uniform you so proudly wear, by presenting you the graduation cap and gown you sacrificed 76 years ago to answer the call of duty to defense of our nation,” Sherrick said.
NJROTC Commander Murry Estabrook helped Shaw into his Zebra-red cap and gown.
Nearly cut off by applause, Principal Kerri Garroutte “It is my pleasure and my honor as principal of Claremore High School to present Lewie Marvin Shaw with your Claremore High School diploma.”
As students were dismissed back to class, Claremore High School student Sarah Bruce came down from the stands to give her great-grandfather a hug.
Superintendent Bryan Frazier, whose father similarly chose military service over finishing high school, came forward to shake the man’s hand.
“This is a great opportunity for us and our students to experience the greatest generation of all time, and they are leaving us pretty quickly,” Frazier said. “I think it is important that our students understand that freedom doesn’t come free, and the sacrifices they made are real.”
Estabrook, who was instrumental in organizing the event, recounted a similar story with his own father, who never received his high school diploma.
“It was an honor to do this for Shaw, because I didn’t get to do this for my father,” Estabrook said, unable to contain the emotion welling in his voice.
Shaw, dressed in his original Marine uniform, said the recognition was, “overwhelming,” and “a thrill.”