Marine should take guidance from his commanding officer
I have a number of friends who are United States Marines. I doubt that Ledger-Transcript reporter Dave Anderson was approached by Pvt. Brandon Garabrant regarding the desire to wear a military uniform to graduation rather than a cap and gown, as that is not the usual conduct of a Marine. It’s more likely that his family is upset by ConVal High principal Brian Pickering’s decision to refuse the request, and hence, the story in Tuesday’s newspaper.
Similar controversies are all over the Internet across our country, and school districts have had a variety of policies and outcomes. In California, they pushed for and passed a state law so that active duty military personnel could wear their uniform instead of a cap and gown at a graduation ceremonies.
The simple answer to this particular controversy is to ask Garabrant’s commanding officer what he should do, and then follow this guidance.
There is also the Marine Corps Uniform Regulation manual, though there is nothing specific to cap and gown graduation ceremonies. However, you might find something to the effect about not covering up the uniform itself. Or you can contact the USMC Division of Public Affairs and inquire as to their position on this matter.
I can see both sides of this issue, being a staunch supporter of our troops and the military.
Pvt. Garabrant, his family and his community, I am sure, are very proud that he is a U.S. Marine and has chosen to serve his country. But I also see the school district’s side. Rules for walking at graduation are very clear, and Pvt. Garabrant knew these rules before he entered the USMC.
I am sure there is a military rule or regulation that required recruits such as Pvt. Garabrant to wear a specific uniform at their boot camp graduation ceremony. What if one recruit wanted to wear a different uniform, or add a piece of civilian clothing that was significant for them? Would that be allowed? Not according to the Marine Corps Uniform Regulations.
If he wanted to wear the uniform at graduation, Pvt. Garabrant probably needed to discuss this with his commanding officer first, before returning to ConVal, in order to get guidance and avoid this type of public controversy. He may have already done this. Pvt. Garabrant also has the option of wearing civilian clothes as ConVal graduation is a civilian ceremony.
He can also take guidance from fellow military personnel who have walked in past ConVal High School graduation ceremonies. What have they worn?
Can Pvt. Garabrant choose which rules to follow or not to follow? He can’t in the military, so should he be able to choose which ConVal rules to follow or not?
Individual pride, military code or community tradition — what will Pvt. Garabrant do?
Whatever the outcome may be, I want to thank Pvt. Garabrant and his family for his commitment to the USMC and his service to our country.
Teresa Cadorette lives in Peterborough.