Military Uniforms Don't Belong Onstage at High School Graduation

Jeanne Sager

gradsIt's that time of year again, the time when stuffy high school auditoriums fill to bursting, and soon-to-be high school graduates are bursting with self-importance. When you get stories like the teenage Marine who wanted to wear her dress uniform only to be told "no" by her school, prompting a whole lot of hew and cry on behalf of the "support our troops" contingent and "wave your freak flag" sector alike. Stand back. It's time to burst some bubbles.

If you've made it to graduation, you should be old enough to realize you're just part of the pack during the commencement exercises. I'm a support the troops gal all the way, but the Pennsylvania high school that told newly minted Marine Lindsay Starr she needed to wear her cap and gown just like her classmates was right on target.

Graduation is supposed to mark an added level of maturity. I'll argue that these are still, by and large, kids, and they should be allowed to have fun at the event (really, mortarboard throwing is tradition, cranky principals, just let it GO!). But is a kid really ready for adulthood when they throw a hissy because of their outfit?

I dare say a Marine in particular should embrace the concept of uniformity in the processional. But this isn't just about Lindsay. It's every time you turn around. Kids want entire graduation ceremonies moved to suit their schedules. They want to turn a secular ceremony into something religious with their speech content. They want. They want. They want. We're supposed to feel good about the future of America with these brats forging our future?

Parents? Where are you? Your precious darlings need you, pronto, to give them a good swift kick in the rear (figuratively speaking). You "socialized" them to prepare them for kindergarten, but what happened to prepping them for the real world, where they'll have to compromise? And make concessions? Where nothing revolves around them? Where you choose the important battles, which almost never revolve around clothing choices?

I don't want to show up at a graduation ceremony to see one Marine uniform and 50 kids in caps and gowns. I want to see 51 kids who figured out how to make one thing work for them, who came together, who sucked it up, who have shown they can act like adults.

Should kids get to dictate the rules of their graduation ceremonies, or should they have to go with the flow?


Image via j.o.h.n. walker/Flickr

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