An Indiana student was barred from a high school graduation ceremony over a dispute involving his U.S. Marine Corps dress blue uniform.
Jacob Dalton Stanley of Crown Point High School graduated in December and shipped off to Marine boot camp soon afterward. He returned to his hometown last Friday to walk in Tuesday’s commencement ceremony but was denied the option of wearing dress blues.
The new recruit declined to comment on the snub (nearby Hobart High School allows military dress uniforms), but family and friends called the decision a “disgrace.”
“It’s unacceptable that he was not allowed to walk across the stage,” graduating senior Leann Tustison told the Times of Northwest Indiana on Wednesday. “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. […] They honored other people’s achievements whether they were in triathlon or other activities.”
A family member who asked not to be identified pointed out that one student sported shorts and gym shoes to the event.
Principal Chip Pettit defended the school’s decision in an email to the newspaper, saying that military personnel are permitted to wear stoles and chords with traditional gowns.
“This practice has served us well as it has allowed the class to show unity by dressing the same, but also allowing for individual accomplishments to be recognized by wearing stoles and chords,” he said. “This tradition is not intended to be disrespectful to students, parents, or our community, but as a source of pride for our students. 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. We are forever grateful for the sacrifices that they make on a daily basis for our freedom.”
A spokesman for the U.S. Marine Corps. told the newspaper that its policy is not to get involved in such disputes.