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Veteran receives diploma 60 years after graduating
EP Henry Relaford
Henry Relaford holds his framed high school diploma - photo by Photo by Emily Peterson
Henry Relaford, a World War II veteran and long-time Riceboro City Council member, has finally received his honorary high school diploma more than 50 years after completing his degree.
Relaford was born in 1920 and began his education in Bulloch County. Because he lived on a farm he was not able to attend school every day.
“My brother would go maybe two days a week while I stayed home and plowed. Then I would go three days, maybe Wednesday, Thursday and Friday,” Relaford said.
He went through the fifth grade at Willow Hill School in Bulloch County.
In 1939, Relaford went to C.C. Camp in Jesup. After that camp broke up, a new one was built in 1940 near Pembroke. He then moved to Camp Blanding in Florida.
On Nov. 11, 1942 Relaford was drafted and sent to war.
When Relaford came back from the war in 1945, he worked for a few months at a construction company, but then went to work at the Assessment Administration office in Savannah.
He eventually decided to finish his education by entering the Veteran's Education Program.
“When I found out we could go to school, I put in for it,” he said.
In 1956, Relaford, along with the rest of the World War II veterans in the program, completed their education and graduated from the program. Even though Relaford graduated, he did not receive his diploma at the time of graduation.
Nathaniel Smith, a teacher of Relaford’s in the Veterans Education Program, died before Relaford was able to receive his diploma.
“Everywhere I went, they would say they didn’t have a record,” Relaford said when asked if he tried to get his diploma on his own. “I knew it had to be on record.”  
He wrote letters to various people asking for help locating the record saying he graduated.
Henry Singleton, who went through the Veterans Education Program with Relaford, also wrote a letter saying they completed the program’s requirements.
Relaford said he knew somebody, somewhere, had to have a record that he graduated.
“I am very, very persistent. I don't take no for an answer,” Relaford said.
Relaford eventually decided to enlist the help of someone he met through the NAACP, Pastor Hermon Scott of Baconton Missionary Baptist Church.
“I can look at him and see that he is reliable,” Relaford said, in response to why he chose Scott to assist him in getting his diploma.
Scott was eager to help Relaford receive his diploma, and began helping him about a year ago.
“I helped him because of his desire to leave something for his children,”  Scott said. “I believe in education, and when we have an older person who wants to leave something for his children, as a pastor, I want to be a part of that.”
Relaford’s persistence, with the help of Scott, finally paid off. On June 12, Relaford, along with Henry Singleton and Simon Hines, who also completed the Veterans Education Program, received their honorary diplomas.
He told Scott he plans to leave the diploma as a keepsake for his children.
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