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Contact: Richard Vespucci
For Release: September 28, 2000

Department of Education Joins Department of Military and Veterans Affairs in New Program to Recognize "The Greatest Generation"

The New Jersey Department of Education and the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMAVA) are jointly launching a program to honor World War II era veterans who left high school without receiving their diplomas.

Known as Operation Recognition, the program will result in the award of a state-endorsed diploma to any resident New Jersey veteran who left high school to enter military service between the dates of September 16, 1940 and December 31, 1946. Merchant Marine and Coast Guard veterans are eligible, as are veterans who passed the GED examination. Diplomas may be issued posthumously as well.

"I am pleased to enlist our staff in working with Military and Veterans Affairs to support this most worthy program," said Commissioner of Education David Hespe. "Through their patriotism and sacrifice, the men and women who served our nation during World War II have justly earned the distinction as ‘the greatest generation.’

"I am asking local school leaders throughout the state to realize the opportunities this program will present to enhance their social studies and history curricula," Hespe continued. "Specifically, I will ask school districts to award these diplomas as part of subsequent Veterans’ Day or Memorial Day observances, or at regular commencement exercises. The department can provide assistance and information on how schools in other states have turned these occasions into memorable and moving celebrations."

Programs similar to Operation Recognition have been established in several other states, including Connecticut, Florida and Massachusetts.

To apply for Operation Recognition diplomas, contact: Patricia Richter, Administrative Assistant, Division of Veterans Programs, New Jersey Department of Military & Veterans Affairs, 101 Eggert Crossing Road, Lawrenceville, NJ 08648; 609-530-6854.

Veterans whose eligibility is confirmed by October 30, 2000 will be invited to a statewide Operation Recognition diploma ceremony to be held in November during the week of Veterans’ Day.