Korean War vet, 78, awarded CHS diploma

School Committee member John Bonnanzio congratulates new graduate Ed Karas. (Kelly Blake photo)

School Committee member John Bonnanzio congratulates new graduate Ed Karas. (Kelly Blake photo)

It took nearly six decades, but Edward Karas is now officially a Canton High School graduate.

Clad in a green cap and gown and accompanied by proud family members, the 78-year-old Korean War veteran was awarded his honorary diploma from Canton school officials last Friday following a brief yet moving commencement held just for him in the CHS Morse Auditorium.

“This has been on the agenda for a couple of years,” quipped Karas, who had left school early to enter the workforce and later enlisted in the Navy.

Organized by Canton Veterans Agent Tony Andreotti at the request of Karas, the ceremony featured remarks by CHS Principal Derek Folan, Superintendent Jeff Granatino, and School Committee member John Bonnanzio, as well as performances of the “Star Spangled Banner” and “America the Beautiful” by CHS students Albert DeMers and Sung Ahn.

Andreotti, who is himself a Korean War veteran, noted how both he and Karas had briefly attended school together — starting in the fall of 1950 when the new Canton High School “Building A” opened its doors on Washington Street.

Andreotti recalled that when the school opened that September, “Edward Karas entered as a freshman” while “Tony Andreotti entered as a senior.”

Karas took a job at the end of his first year and subsequently enlisted for a four-year tour of duty in the Navy. He was still in the service when his original class graduated in the spring of 1954, and he was discharged the following October, receiving both the National Defense Service Medal and the Navy Occupation Service Medal.

Andreotti, who has held similar graduation events in the past for Canton veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam, pointed out how the Korean Armistice Agreement was signed nearly 60 years ago — on July 27, 1953.

“So here we are today,” he said, “[approaching] the 60th anniversary of the armistice of the Korean War. How’s that for timing?”

All three school officials in attendance commented on how special it was to be a part of such a ceremony, which Granatino described as the “very least we can do” for a war veteran like Karas.

“You have lived and embodied everything that we try to bring out in our students,” said Granatino, whose father also served in Korea. “Ed Karas, you have earned the right to be called a graduate of Canton High School.”

Folan declared him an official member of the Class of 2013 and then marked the occasion by switching Karas’ tassel from right to left. “What a great way to end our school year by giving you this diploma today,” said Folan.

“I must say, this is one of the nicest things that I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of,” added Bonnanzio, before offering his “long overdue” congratulations.

Karas, who had celebrated his birthday just two days earlier, was all smiles upon receiving his diploma.

“I’d like to thank everyone involved for making this a super day for me and a great birthday present,” he said.

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