New Commencement Proceeding Fulfills Regret for 1943 Graduate

Black Diamond Historical Society, Enumclaw School District, and the Department of Veteran Affairs coordinated effort to exonerate years of regret expressed by Joe Zumek. Photo by D’Ann Tedford


Joe Zumek missed his Black Diamond High School commencement exercise. He was in the graduating class of 1943 but left school his senior year in June, just one credit short of completing high school. He entered World War II. His only regret at 94 years of age was that he did not receive his diploma. A respectful presentation 75 years later, on December 3, 2018, exonerated his regret for the missing certificate.

Joe was wearing a traditional cap with tassel at his unique graduation this month at Black Diamond Elementary School. Gold colored honor cords graced his shoulders over a red gown provided by Enumclaw School District. Superintendent Mike Nelson walked up an aisle among a capacity-sized audience to the traditional tune, Pomp and Circumstance. The song has been described as one that will make most listeners “burst with pride and weep in anticipation”. Originally titled “Land of Hope and Glory,” the song fit the billin recognition of Joe’s 27 months of service to his country; a tour of duty that included searching German prisoners who had surrendered.

Explicitly following tradition, the gold tassel on Joe’s cap was moved from the left side to the right after presentation of his diploma. Handshakes followed, along with many a thank you for duty to this country. Attendees expressed their gratitude for dedication to his hometown of Black Diamond in decades of volunteer work. A standing ovation erupted spontaneously from town dignitaries, from family and friends, from school district representatives. The date on his diploma awarded at graduation? June 1943. Mission accomplished in 2018.