Follow the Rules, Marine!

Just read a story about a young man who has refused to walk across the stage at his high school graduation if he’s not allowed to wear his Marine Corps dress blues.

At first, I was angry. Why would a high school principal refuse to allow this young man to wear his dress blues, after he has worked hard, graduated early, will be leaving for boot camp, and will return to graduate with his class as a United States Marine? Why would she do that, especially since other school districts have allowed the practice? I admit I had a kneejerk reaction, because I’m so accustomed to stupid zero tolerance sense stories coming out of our schools recently.

But I’m glad I read the entire story before getting angry.

Principal Love, district administration, and the Board of Education highly value military service and the choice of some Hudson High School graduates to serve our country in this most honorable way.  The “Window of Honor” at the High School, which contains photos of graduates who served or are currently serving in the military, is a daily reminder of the value and honor of military service.

The media has released a story about a HHS student who has graduated early, has enlisted in the Marines, is leaving for basic training this week, and wants to wear the military uniform instead of the traditional cap and gown at graduation. In this case, privacy law restricts the district from identifying or commenting about a specific student. Therefore, the district’s statement must be made in general terms.

To change a long standing practice such as HHS graduation dress code standards, a formal written request by a specific member of the graduating class would need to be submitted to the principal for consideration. To date, Principal Laura Love has not received a written request for an exception to the graduation dress code to wear a military uniform from a specific member of the Class of 2013. Instead, Principal Love has received questions about the dress code and military attire from individuals. She has responded based on long standing past practice and what the high school ceremony represents – a culminating successful accomplishment of required work during the high school years. If a written request to the principal for such a change or exception to the graduation dress code to wear a military uniform is received from a member of the graduating class, consideration will be made by the Board of Education since this decision could affect all future graduation ceremonies.

The principal wanted a uniform look at the event – uniform… uni… one… I’m sure this young Marine can understand that concept.

The principal wanted the event to focus on these young people’s high school achievements – not their achievements elsewhere. I can see that. I’m pretty sure she’s not going to allow the wear of Eagle Scout uniforms at graduation either.

This does not imply any disdain for the military or for the Marine Corps. It’s a simple desire to ensure that the event focuses on high school graduation.

And frankly, this is the policy. Those are the rules.

I understand this young man is proud of his accomplishments. I get he’s proud of his service. I get that he’s proud of the Corps. I would be too.

But I would think in boot camp he would learn to respect rules. I would think he would understand the school has its rules, and he needs to follow them. This is not about his rights. The rules aren’t unreasonable or unnecessarily harsh or demeaning toward him or his service. If he wants to attend graduation, he needs to follow them…

…not cause drama by taking his case to the media.

And by the way, the Marine Corps agrees.

Marine Capt. Ken Kunze, public affairs officer for the Ninth Marine Corps District, said that it’s not uncommon for Marines to wear dress blues for community events such as high school graduation ceremonies, but he advised that school policies should be followed.

“If it’s the school policy that they all wear caps and gowns, then obviously we’re not going to tell the school that there’s a problem with their policy,” Kunze said. “We encourage Marines to follow the rules of the organization that they’re working with, especially when it comes to community relations events. If there are rules and guidelines that community events have as far as uniformity and things of that nature, then we encourage Marines to abide by those rules.”

Sorry, Marine. You’re wrong.

7 responses

  1. I think I’m missing something here.
    This kid is in high school, yes? He hasn’t been to boot camp yet, has he? If this is so, why would he be allowed to wear Marine Corps’ Dress Blues? I mean, that would be akin to me enlisting in the US Army midway through high school and then demanding to wear my Class A uniform for graduation, when I haven’t earned it yet.

    Did I miss the part where this kid is now officially a Marine without going to boot camp?

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    1. He is finishing high school early and going to boot camp. By the time he’s done with training, he will be able to graduate with his high school class.

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    2. Nicki, totally missed that part. You even said as much in the post. Now don’t I feel stupid? Yep.

      *sheepishly slinks away….*

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      1. LOL it happens to the best of us.

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        1. I blame the allergy medicine I am on. It makes me a bit cloudy, shall we say.

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  2. I don’t know what the big stink is about. He hasn’t earned anything yet and nothing says he will. IF he were to make it through boot camp then he could address it, until then he needs to be quiet and worry about boot camp, not what may or may not happen after.

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  3. I must agree that it’s the schools desires that should matter here.

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