Viewpoint

Marine’s mother missed meaning of dress code

ConVal’s 2013 high school graduation ceremony is now over. I don’t know the outcome of the ‘uniform controversy,’ as I did not attend the ceremony, but I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to all the graduates and their families, for a job well done.

My intuition was correct, as Pvt. Brandon Garabrant’s mother confirmed in her June 6 Viewpoint article, that the private’s family and friends were the source of the uniform controversy.

A few points first:

1. If Pvt. Garabrant attended graduation, then he was on military leave/liberty, and not on official USMC assignment.

2. Marine Corps Uniform Regulations manual is “to define Marine Corps uniform policies and provide regulations for the proper wear of the uniform.” It guides what Marines may wear on and off duty. Commanders order the uniform-of-the-day and “may interpret the provisions of this Manual to address specific concerns whenever necessary.”

Ms. Garabrant’s concluding paragraph in her Viewpoint article states: “Judging by these regulations, this new Marine is required to wear is dress A or B uniform for this event. To participate in this event without his dress uniform is a violation of the USMC Code of Conduct.”

First, the USMC Code of Conduct (correct term is the US Military Code of Conduct) is absolutely not relevant to this issue, as it is the legal guide for the behavior of military members who are captured by hostile forces.

That being said, I find I must respond to Jessie Garabrant’s misinterpretation of the Marine Corps Uniform Regulations (MCO P1020.34). Sadly, she chose to quote these regulations in such a way to ‘prove’ her point. However, small key words were changed and pertinent sections of the regulations were not addressed.

Specifically, Ms. Garabrant substituted the word “is” for “may” in Chapter 2, Section 2003, Paragraphs 1. - “the blue dress “A” uniform MAY (emphasis added) be prescribed . . .” as well as in Chapter 2, Section 2003, Paragraphs 2. - “the blue dress “B” uniform MAY (emphasis added) be prescribed . . .” I won’t get into the minutia and definitions of the various events when these uniforms may be worn, but a civilian high school graduation is not among them.

She also failed to add the MCUR’s restrictions on wearing blue dress “A” or “B” uniforms: Chapter 2, Section 2003, Paragraph 3.a. - “The blue dress “A” uniform includes . . . This uniform WILL NOT (emphasis added) be worn for leave or liberty.” The same regulation applies to uniform “B”, as it only differs from “A”, in that ribbons are worn in lieu of medals.

These two particular dress uniforms are meant for military functions and events only. Therefore, as he was on leave/liberty to participate in his high school graduation ceremony, Pvt. Garabrant, is actually prohibited from wearing his blue dress “A” or “B” uniform to his high school graduation.

That being said, if she had read further, blue dress “C” or “D” are “authorized for leave and liberty” (MCUR Chapter 2, Section 2003, Paragraph 3.c-d.), which consists of blue trousers and a khaki shirt.

As I said in my own Viewpoint article, simple guidance from the private’s commander could have prevented this controversy in the first place. I would suggest ConVal Principal Brian Pickering and/or the ConVal School Board contact the various branches of the U.S. military and ask for written guidance with regards to the wearing of military uniforms at high school graduations. Then the board, with this input from the U.S. military commands, can amend ConVal’s graduation policies accordingly, in order to eliminate any future conflicts, as this issue is likely to occur again.

Teresa Cadorette lives in
Peterborough.

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