Fred Voss admitted he was a little nervous. At 92, he's a little older than the other students getting ready for high school graduation in Lansing. For Voss, his journey to a high school diploma has taken him across the world.
Voss was a good student growing up in Germany in the 1930's but when Adolph Hitler and the Nazi Government took control of the country - his education was abruptly cut short.
"One day I went to school and the principal called all the Jewish student together. We were not that many, maybe six or seven, and told us he's sorry but we must leave the school," said Voss.
Jewish families were tormented by the Nazi Government. During a series of attacks referred to as the "Night of Broken Glass", Voss' father was taken to a concentration camp. Fred Voss spent 14 hours evading Gestapo agents.
"Wherever there was Jewish life - there were flames burning," said Voss "If I live to be 190, I will never forget that picture."
The Voss family had to give up nearly all of their money and possessions to get Fred's father out of the concentration camp. They then used forged papers to escape into Belgium. From there, they went on to England and America. Six million European Jews were killed by the Nazis during World War 2. Fred Voss joined the U.S. army and went to France as a combat engineer and translator. He met his wife Ilse in London and the two have been married for 66 years. Since 1985, Fred has spoken at schools, colleges and churches about surviving the holocaust. He agreed to accept a diploma from Lansing High School with one condition - he wanted to accept it in remembrance of the Jewish children killed during the Holocaust.
"Those kids were forced out of school, a million and a half that died. We will never know how many of them would have grown up, been scientists and do something for our world," said Voss.
Voss says his advice for his fellow graduates is to accomplish what others say his impossible. It is also a fitting description of his own life and achievements. Voss wrote a book about his family and how they found their freedom. A portion of all proceeds from "Miracles, Milestones and Memories" goes to organizations dedicated to preserving the memory of the Holocaust through living actions.