Marine Forced to Fight for Right to Wear Military Uniform to Graduation

Marine CorpsWhen a kid finishes up high school a full semester early and gets through Marine Corps recruit training before graduation, you'd expect folks back home would be proud of him, wouldn't you? Proud enough to let him wear his military uniform to graduation? You would think anyway. Kids who enter our armed forces out of high school are a vital part of our country's military, and their dedication is something to celebrate.

But when a Wisconsin teen named Mac Hamlin asked his old high school if he could wear his dress blues when he walks with his class at graduation, the first answer he got was "no."


Hudson High School's principal told Hamlin that caps and gowns are worn to make graduation ceremonies uniform, to make sure the attention is on graduation itself.

Huh? I thought graduation was supposed to be about lauding the students' accomplishments! And graduating early and completing the rather difficult task of Marine recruit training is one heckuva accomplishment for a young man.

It took a fight from Hamlin's proud sister, who wanted her brother's service to country acknowledged, to get the school district to change its mind. He will be walking in his dress blues, and from here on out, all other active duty military at Hudson will have the same right.

Good move, Hudson! So should other schools follow suit?

Why not? Kids who enter our military deserve our support, and the best time to start is right now.

I confess I have never really understood the push to make kids conform on their very last moment in high school. After all, isn't the point of school to help kids do anything but? Aren't we trying to raise kids who can think for themselves?

As a reporter for the local paper, I cover graduation exercises every June, and every year I have to hold my tongue as I listen to administrators telling kids to rein themselves in on the biggest night of their lives so far. It sounds so hypocritical to tell kids to be proud of how far they've come out of one side of your mouth and yet be telling them they had best not let their freak flags fly because, tsk, tsk, this is NOT the time and place for that.

Excuse me? When is the time and place to let our teenagers celebrate who they have become?

When is the time when we will start truly celebrating what they've done and who they are becoming? When will we acknowledge that is the true point of graduation?

If I see a kid in uniform at graduation, it isn't going to make me stop thinking about the event. If anything, it's going to make me grateful that said school turned out a citizen who wants to give back to his (or her) country.

Do you think graduates should be able to wear their military uniforms to graduation or should it be cap and gown only?


Image via *Gunslinger*/Flickr

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