TMSG: WWII veteran walks at her graduation


A World War II veteran is getting her wish for her 99th birthday – the chance to walk across the stage at graduation! This story made my heart so happy!

Elizabeth Barker Johnson made history in 1943 when she joined the US Army’s 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion. It was the only all-Black, all-women’s battalion that served overseas during WW II. Soon after completing her service, she became the first woman to attend Winston-Salem State University under the GI Bill. She went on to earn her teaching degree and landed a job.

Unfortunately, she was forced to make the decision between attending her graduation ceremony or going to work her new job. “I couldn’t get anyone to substitute for me back then, so I had to miss my graduation. It was terrible.” Johnson said. 

Fast-forward almost 70 years later, and Winston-Salem State University is making her dream come true. The school surprised her with a red cap and gown during her birthday celebration with an invitation to walk in a commencement ceremony this Friday. “That’s going to be probably the highest honor of her life,” said her son, David Johnson. “The fact that she gets to graduate now, after all this time, is going to melt her heart. She deserves it.”

Congratulations to you, Mrs Johnson, and thank you for your service!


Allison Lee Isley/Journal


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