World War II Veterans to Return for Commencement

American FlagSixty-five years ago, Clarence “Cal” Hansen was required to leave college just weeks before his graduation to go fight in World War II. Next weekend, he is returning to Canton from South Dakota to attend the Commencement he was forced to miss in 1943.

At its upcoming Commencement, SUNY Canton will be honoring all of its World War II veterans that left College to serve their country and didn’t get the opportunity to experience their graduation. The College will be bestowing honorary certificates to the brave men who left school to defend our country, including those veterans unable to attend and those who have passed away.

“This is likely the most special group of students in the College’s illustrious history,” said President Joseph L. Kennedy. “They’ve been appropriately called ‘The Greatest Generation’ because of what they did for our country and the world. It wouldn’t be a stretch to call them our greatest graduates.”

Veterans and their families are encouraged to call 888-388-7123 or 386-7528 or email SUNY Canton will be celebrating its 100th Commencement at 10:30 a.m. on May 17 outdoors across from French Hall. Nearly 500 graduates are expected to participate, including several veterans and their spouses.

“Clarence Hansen recently sent our alumni offices an email describing how a large number of students from his Class of 1943 were required to leave school on April 1,” said Vice President of Advancement David M. Gerlach. “As a result, they missed their graduation ceremony by just a few weeks. As we looked into it further, there were students from other years with similar experiences.”

The College has had difficulty finding all of its veterans to invite them to this year’s ceremonies.

“We’re asking the public for help in finding all of our World War II veterans or their surviving family members to let them know that we’d like them to join us on May 17,” said Gerlach. “Although some of our veterans have passed away, we’re hoping that their spouses or children will contact us. And for those that are unable to attend, we’d still like to send them their honorary certificate.”

“We want to thank Cal for telling us their story and for traveling all the way from South Dakota to join us,” said Kennedy. “This will be one of the most memorable experiences for me as the College’s President. We congratulate all of our veterans and welcome them and their families to the graduation ceremonies they so deeply deserve.”

SUNY Canton offers a wide variety of career-driven bachelor’s, associate, and certificate programs, as well as three master’s degrees in conjunction with SUNYIT, Utica. Most of SUNY Canton’s new four-year programs are designed so students can take them on-campus, online, or both. SUNY Canton OnLine features more than 65 courses online each semester. The college’s athletic teams have joined the NAIA’s Sunrise Conference, enabling students to compete in their respective sports for four years.

Media inquiries should be directed to Gregory Kie, Media Relations Coordinator, or call 315/386-7528.

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