Thursday, February 02, 2006

Dropping Out to Serve Their Country

Not everyone graduates from high school on time. Occasionally, they graduate early. Future Nobel Prize-winner John Bardeen was only 15 when he graduated from Madison Central High School.

Others graduate late, perhaps because they dropped out and returned later to complete their required courses. As I’ve read yearbooks from 1900 to 1969, one group of "dropouts" emerges that’s very different from the stereotype of the incorrigible kid that’s too often promulgated by people who don’t stop to take a closer look at individual situations before lumping people into groups.

Over the years, many men have dropped out of Madison Central High School to serve their country during times of war. Most enlisted in the military. Perhaps there have also been women who’ve dropped out for this same reason, but my research hasn’t uncovered any yet.

Posted on the Madison Central High School History blog are copies of two pages from the 1946 school yearbook (called The Mirror that year). Titled "Seniors in Service," this section of the yearbook features information about "twenty-two" (I count 24) boys who had dropped out of school to enter military service before the end of World War II, "most of whom went through two or more years of senior high school with us."

Some men who drop out to join the military do come back and finish their high school degree. Others chose not to do so. I’ve seen at least one reference to a student who dropped out to join the military later receiving an honorary degree. Others never return home.

Today I found an obituary for a man who appears to have dropped out of Madison Central High School to fight in another war: The Vietnam War. Bruce C. Fibikar is on the official list of Class of 1965 graduates, but he was probably supposed to graduate in 1963. I haven’t been able to find a photo of him in any yearbook, but I did find him listed in the "Seniors Not Pictured" section of the 1963 Tychoberahn. His obituary, which is posted on the right, doesn’t tell us very much about this man. If you’re reading this and you knew Bruce, please share some memories. Leave a comment or send an email.

1 comment:

D Strand said...

GREAT POST, Nadine. I learned a lot on this one. It makes me proud to be an American and proud to be a Centralite!