"I was deprived of that," said the 86-year-old, who now lives on Mercer Island.
Friedman was 14 when Nazis took over his hometown. Christian farmers hid him, his mother, younger brother, and a Jewish school teacher in a loft for 18 months. His father hid with another family nearby.
"We were up in an attic, above animals. Our space was the size of a queen bed," Friedman said.
Friedman vividly recalled how there wasn't enough room for him to stand up.
"When I was liberated I could not walk because my muscles were all atrophied," he said.
Of the 10,000 jews living in Friedman's town during the Holocaust, he said less than 100 survived. His was the only family. But not all of his family escaped the nightmare.
Friedman's voice softened and his eyes welled as he spoke of a sister born in the loft. He said they all feared a crying newborn would expose and endanger them. He and his brother looked away during the birth and said the teacher then suffocated his sister.
Friedman said he must now go to his grave with that guilt.
"We were infested with lice and fleas, we were starving, but I didn't want to die, I did not want to die, I want to live, I want to survive," he said.
At age 22, Friedman moved to Seattle. He didn't speak English. He didn't know a soul. After a series of jobs and just 10 months, he was drafted into the US Army, where he became a colonel.
Over the years, Friedman moved to Mercer Island. He pushed for a Holocaust museum. He earned an audience with a pope and a president. He raised three children. At every graduation he attended for his kids and grandkids, he beamed with pride but also felt pain.
"I felt a little emptiness, something missing," he said.
On Wednesday the void will finally be filled. The Kent School District, where Friedman has volunteered for 20 years, is giving the 86-year old an honorary high school diploma.
"To most people it's just a piece of paper, but to me it's like getting a medal of honor," Friedman said.
Friedman missed three years of high school classes during the war. The teacher who hid with his family kept him from falling too far behind. Friedman has since devoted his life to sharing lessons he learned from his past.
"My message is not just blood and gore. My message is don't hate. Hate may destroy you. Others may hate you but they do not win until you hate them back," he said.
Friedman says his enemy is no longer Hitler, it's time. And as it closes in on him, he forges ahead -- promoting hope over hate.
"Never give up, never give up hope," said the man who had almost given up on getting his high school diploma.
The original article for the article written by Elisa Jaffe published on October 7, 2014 copied above can be found online at Komo News. http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Holocaust-Survivor-Receives-High-School-Diploma-278457961.html