FM’s high school in Chardon, OH has been in a swirl of controversy regarding this year’s graduation ceremony. Two of their graduating seniors finished their necessary high school credits early and went through military basic training: one in the Marines and one in the Army. Congratulations to both of them on their accomplishments. They went back to their high school to participate in the graduation ceremony.
The controversy began when they made a request to the Principal to wear their uniforms, rather than the traditional cap & gown, at the graduation ceremony. When the Principal said “No”, but offered a couple of options, they decided to make a fuss and, of course, in the current youth’s attitude of entitlement, decided to take it to the media.
One of the options was they participate in the Honor Guard and post the flags. Once the flags were posted, they would be introduced to the assembly. Then they could change their clothes and sit with their classmates and receive their respective diplomas. Sounds reasonable to me. Unfortunately, not so much for the newly minted Privates.
I can totally understand why a young 18 year old would want to wear the uniform, it certainly gives an air of confidence, discipline and looks darn good. They would have garnered an inordinate amount of attention while everyone else wore the traditional cap and gown.
From a Protocol point of view, I completely understand the Principal’s decision but, more importantly, from a personal point of view, I don’t see it as a “slap in the face” to all those who wear the uniform. FM certainly doesn’t see it as a slight in any way. When he’s not at an official function, he’s more than happy to wear his civilian clothes. Someone needs to tell those Privates, forcing a school to allow you to wear the uniform at their ceremony, does not earn you respect. Respect for the uniform comes from the hard work, long hours, grueling deployments and a host of other factors. I can usually tell when someone is a part of the military whether they are in or out of their uniform. There’s an air of confidence ( and usually a “hard body”) that you don’t see often in civilian men.
Several websites have covered this subject and have allowed people to voice their opinions. Some people have suggested the Privates wear the uniform UNDER the cap and gown. This is a big no no when wearing any military uniform. There should be no mixing of civilian clothing and uniforms. There are pages and pages of uniform regulations regarding what you can and cannot wear with the uniform. For goodness sakes, you can’t even use an umbrella while in uniform. And to cover up the uniform with civilian attire would be disgraceful.
Other people went further and suggested they wear it under the gown, then when they get their diploma, rip off the gown while still on stage. My hope is that suggestion came from those who know nothing about military pride because no one I know in the Army would pull such a cowardly stunt just to make their point.
If these Privates had taken the time to check with their chain of command and the Army Protocol Office, they should have gotten some sage advice. They should have been told, the high school graduation is NOT an official military event and, according to uniform regulations (AR 670-1), it specifically states that in a private ceremony, the HOST designates whether or not military attendees should wear the uniform. You don’t force your uniform on a private ceremony.
I do worry a little that these Privates are heading off to their units and I can’t help but wonder how they’re going to react when they don’t agree with their Platoon Sergeant. Will it be another, “Hello, Fox News, (insert whine)”