72 years after internment, Mary Matsuda Gruenewald finally graduates from Vashon High School.
Over the weekend in Washington, a 92-year-old Japanese American woman received her high school diploma — with honors — alongside the graduating class of Vashon High School — 74 years after her education at the school was interrupted when her family was forced into an internment camp during World War II.
Mary Matsuda Gruenewald was 17, in the middle of her junior year in 1942, when her family was forcibly removed from Vashon Island and incarcerated in a dusty California internment camp, like thousands of other innocent Japanese Americans on the west coast. She was a good student, a member of the honor society and served on the student council. But she missed the opportunity to graduate with her classmates.
On Saturday, she finally graduated from Vashon High School. Receiving a standing ovation, she was presented with her diploma, along with a copy of the 1943 yearbook and the 2017 yearbook signed by students and staff. The ceremony was streamed live on YouTube (Gruenewald is first acknowledged in the principal's remarks at the 51:46 mark, and receives her diploma at 1:48:02):