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On Thursday, January 21, our Superintendent of Schools, Suzanne Guntlow, and High School Principal, Craig Shull, had the honor of presenting 98-year old WWII veteran, Harold Williams, with an Ichabod Crane High School Diploma.

This was possible through Operation Recognition – a program of New York State’s Division of Veterans’ Services – which honors NYS veterans who left school before graduation.

Mr. William is currently a nursing home resident and due to COVID-19 safety measures, the diploma ceremony could not take place with him physically in attendance. Thanks to technology and community generosity, a small group of guests joined Mr. Williams from afar at the Green Island American Legion, who offered to host the ceremony. Joined by members of Mr. Williams’ family and others, Ms. Guntlow presented him with his diploma live via Zoom at the American Legion.

In this edited video from the ceremony below, you will hear/see a brief biography of Mr. Williams; the presentation of his Ichabod Crane High School Diploma from Ms. Guntlow (go to the 9:50 mark for diploma presentation); the presentation of an American Flag from the US Capitol Building sent to Mr. Williams from Congressman Antonio Delgado; and the presentation of the Liberty Medal to Mr. Williams from NYS Senator Daphne Jordan. Many thanks to St. Peter’s Health Partners for sharing the Zoom recording of the ceremony with us.

Also in attendance at the January 21 ceremony were:

  • Dave Williams, Debbie Light, Beth Trenholm & Susan Perl – Mr. Williams’ children
  • NYS Senator Daphne Jordan, 43rd District – Read a Proclamation for Mr. Williams and presented him with the Liberty Medal (the highest honor a NY resident can receive from NY Senate)
  • NYS Assemblyman Jacob Ashby, 107th District – Read a Proclamation for Mr. Williams
  • Ken Secor, Albany County Veterans Bureau – Read a Proclamation for Mr. Williams from Dan McCoy, Albany County Executive
  • Mayor Diane Argyle, Village of Valatie – Proclaimed January 23 (Mr. Williams’ birthday) will now be known as “Harold Williams Day” in Valatie
  • John Mullen, Vietnam Veteran & Member of Rev. Francis A. Kelley Society – Presented Mr. Williams with a shadow box filled with his service medals
  • Tom Mullins – Cemerony Organizer & MC, Member of the Rev. Francis A. Kelley Society
  • Samantha Hesler – Ichabod Crane Graduate & Current WNYT News Channel 13 Reporter Who Interview Mr. Williams

Not Present but Sent Letters Read at Ceremony:

  • Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo – Sent a Congratulatory Letter to Mr. Williams
  • Senator Kirsten Gillibrand – Sent Congratulatory Letter to Mr. Williams
  • Congressman Antonio Delgado, 19th District – Sent Congratulatory Letter & an American Flag from the U.S. Capitol Building
  • Albany County Executive, Dan McCoy – Sent County Proclamation for Mr. Williams, Read by Mr. Secor

Tom Mullins – a veteran’s advocate and MC of the January 21 ceremony – reached out to Ichabod Crane in late 2020 to see if they would grant Mr. Williams with his diploma through Operation Recognition. He told us how Mr. Willaims left school in 8th grade during the Great Depression to help support his family and how he eventually joined the Army to serve his country in World War II. Among the historical events Mr. Williams was a part of during the War were the storming of Normandy at Omaha Beach on D-Day (June 6, 1944) and the Battle of Elsenborn Ridge (December 1944) during the Battle of the Bulge.

After hearing his story, we knew the district would be proud to have someone like Mr. Williams included among its graduates. When Ms. Guntlow brought the request before the Board of Education at a recent meeting they unanimously approved Mr. Williams to receive an Ichabod Crane High School Diploma. It was clear that not only was he deserving of this recognition but also that he would be a role model for current and future Ichabod Crane students.

Pictures from January 21 Ceremony