As a nation, each and every one of us owes a debt of gratitude to the brave men and women who volunteer to defend our country by serving in the military — especially those fresh out of school who decide to make such service their whole future.
Unfortunately, these individuals aren’t always paid the respect due, as indicated by the treatment received by a Marine who graduated early, after he decided to wear his uniform to the ceremony.
According to The Blaze:
A U.S. Marine who graduated early was barred from participating in his Indiana high school’s commencement ceremony Tuesday because he was wearing his uniform, the Northwest Indiana Times said.
Pfc. Jacob Stanley graduated from Crown Point High School in December and then joined the Marines, the paper said. Stanley completed boot camp on Friday, flew home for his graduation and even practiced with his classmates during the day, the paper reported.
But Principal Chip Pettit reportedly told Stanley that he wouldn’t be allowed to wear his uniform at the ceremony, the Times said. Stanley reportedly got more than a few calls and texts from friends who encouraged him to wear it anyway and take pride in it, the paper said — and that’s just what Stanley did.
However, when Stanley showed up for commencement in his dress blues, the Times said he was turned away. While his name was listed in the graduation program, the paper said school officials didn’t read his name along with his fellow graduates.
While Pettit praised the military — telling WMAQ-TV “we are forever grateful for the sacrifices that they make on a daily basis for our freedom” — he defended the cap-and-gown-only decision.
“This tradition is not intended to be disrespectful to students, parents, or our community, but as a source of pride for our students,” Pettit told the station. “It is also not intended to be disrespectful to our students choosing to serve in the military, our active duty servicemen and women, and our veterans.”
Stanley’s schoolmates, however, didn’t see it that way.
Fellow graduate Leann Tustison told the Times the decision was “unacceptable” and “absolutely ridiculous. He’s in the military putting his life on the line for us.”
“If he wants to walk across the stage in his uniform that he worked so hard for and earned, he should have the right to do that,” she told the paper. “That’s his achievement. They honored other people’s achievements whether they were in a triathlon or other activities.”
How did Stanley respond to all of the controversy? Like a total champ:
“I don’t want the social media controversy that is drawing attention away from the Class of 2017,” he said in a statement through the 9th Marine Corps District, Naval Station Great Lakes, WMAQ reported. “I also do not want to make any additional statements and wish to put this all behind me so I can start my career in the Marine Corps.”
Steve Disney, the superintendent of River Forest school district, stated that a student of his who joined the National Guard will be graduating this weekend, saying, “If he wore his uniform, it would be something we would consider an honor.”
Notice the difference in the attitude between these two schools? One has a proper understanding of what it means to honor those who sacrifice for the defense of liberty, the other clearly doesn’t.
If a student wishes to wear a uniform they’ve earned the right to wear, they should be allowed, and if that makes other students uncomfortable or envious, they need to grow up. Period.
[Note: This article was written by Michael Cantrell]