On June 2, 89-year-old Erwin Empie took the stage with 300 Cedar Springs students and officially graduated high school, WZZM-13 reports.

71 years prior, Empie had dropped out of Cedar Springs High School during his sophomore year to enlist in the Navy during World War II.

He says not having his diploma always bothered him and recently his family found an article about veterans getting their GEDs-- so they helped him make it happen.

Epmie was able to finally graduate because of "Public Act 181" (also called "Operation Recognition") which mandates that a veteran can receive a high school diploma if the veteran enlisted in or was drafted into the armed forces during World War II, or the Korean and Vietnam conflicts before graduating.

Empie served as a 2nd Class Seaman with the United States Navy from 1944-1946.

And now he is a member of the Cedar Springs Class of 2016.

Empie told WZZM-13,

"I just looked out in the audience, then raised my fist. I almost lost my emotions then. I just thank the Lord that I was able to do it. I don't know if he was just saving me for that or what, but I've wondered for a long time why I am still hanging around. Maybe this was it... I've always felt incomplete and unfinished without my high school diploma, and now those feelings are gone."