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Vietnam veteran, 71, finally gets diploma from Kenmore East High

Michael Burke had it in the back of his mind that he would go back and get his certificate, but life just always seemed to get in the way.

BATAVIA, N.Y. — It's something most of us can probably relate to. We've got a goal in mind, but and no matter how many times we try to get it done, life seems to just get in the way. 

However, beauty in that idea is that when something is meant to be, life also manages to find a way.

Last month, life found a way for 71-year-old Michael Burke.

"It felt great. It felt like something I should've done years and years ago," Burke said. 

He never graduated from Kenmore East High School because he followed in his military family's footsteps at 17, by enlisting in the Vietnam War.

"It was my turn to go," Burke said. 

For that service, he's finally received his diploma and earned a celebration from at the Batavia VA, where Burke moved six months ago. 

"Unfortunately, I have a short length of time to deal with," Burke said. 

His days are now numbered because of a rare disease affecting his nerves and muscles. 

However, moving to the VA is also where Burke immediately found a bright spot in a conversation with fellow veteran turned friend, 58-year-old John McClune.

"I was just blessed to come out here and I met John and John got a hold of Kenmore East High School," Burke said. 

"Anytime a veteran needs help, we as veterans will come to each other's aid. We can be each other's worst enemies at one moment, and the next minute best friends. It's that kind of comradery," McClune said. 

It was a connection just meant to be. 

"If it wasn't for John, I wouldn't have gotten it," Burke said. 

This is not the first time McClune has helped a veteran get their diploma. 

Whether you have served in the armed forces or not, McClune says he hopes we all can do a little more for veterans in our area. 

There is a New York State program which will help any veteran who didn't graduate from high school because they enlisted in the service. It's called Operation Recognition, and you can learn more by clicking here

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