Taking their last steps through the gym, would be the 2018 Mineral County High School seniors school assignment.

After graduation, they would no longer be considered students – but alumni.

This small class came together united to celebrate the accomplishment of completing 12 years of schooling, many of them having been together since kindergarten.

Childhood friends turn into adult friendship which showed throughout the graduation. Many of these students have survived extreme losses in their life and the amount of empty chairs in the front row was a reminder that those loved ones were there with them at this time.

This year, joining the youth on stage was a veteran who served his graduation in Vietnam.

Philip Richard Neal, a Mineral County High School alumni, joined the United States Army in 1966 following in this two brothers footsteps who had joined in 1965.

Neal would serve the majority of his service in Germany with the 509th Airborne, returning home to Hawthorne in 1969 and working at the base.

He was awarded his high school diploma under Operation Recognition, passed in 2003 by the 72nd Session of the Nevada Legislature, Assembly Bill 52.

In order to receive a high school diploma, the veteran must have served in the Armed Forces of the United States during World War II through the Vietnam Era, between the dates of Sept. 16, 1940 through May 7, 1975.

The veteran, guardian of disabled veteran or a member of a deceased veteran’s family, on behalf of the veteran, can submit an application for Operation Recognition.

So as old and young came, two separate generations – having a common thread, the pride in receiving your high school diploma in front of family and friends.