Oh California, what are we going to do with you! High school senior Harland Fletcher had one simple request: the U.S. Army reservist wanted to wear his uniform to his Brentwood, California graduation ceremony last Friday.
Not only was his request denied by school officials, Fletcher was actually banned from his graduation ceremony!
Military veterans were outraged by the school’s decision, so they organized a private graduation ceremony for him on Monday. Around 100 people supported their fellow serviceman, watching the 18-year-old finally walk across the stage, wearing his uniform and receiving his diploma.
In particular, Brentwood’s Marine Corps League came out in force to support Fletcher on Monday, including Sergeant Duane Edwards, a Vietnam veteran. Edwards stated that California law dictates that Fletcher can wear his uniform during public ceremonies, and that the principal was in violation of the state law.
Fletcher was actually right. Since he had completed basic training, California law allows him to wear his uniform. Speaking on behalf of the high school, district superintendent Eric Volta publicly acknowledged that Fletcher was actually well within his rights.
Fletcher, who serves as a private first class U.S. Army Reserve said, “The uniform for me means honor, respect, integrity, and it stands for America’s freedom.”
He continued by saying “The military is about friendship – brothers and sisters standing together, not just letting someone trample over us.” And that is exactly what Fletcher and his military brethren did.
The idiot who made this brilliant decision is Liberty High School Principal Patrick Walsh, who apparently quickly realized his colossal error in judgment, issued a formal apology to Fletcher, and took fool responsibility for the ridiculous incident.
Walsh told Fletcher that he’d have to wear his cap and gown over his uniform. When Fletcher stood his ground, the principal banned him from his own graduation ceremony. (Side note: who’s the adult here? Guess what? It’s not the principal).
As is typically the case in these situations, both sides have different stories about how this actually came to pass. Fletcher says he repeatedly informed a school counselor several times over several weeks of his intention to wear his uniform. The counselor said “no problem”.
But the district officials tell a different story, saying that the principal did not receive sufficient notice. (How much notice do you need?)
Walsh said that he “deeply regretted what had occurred”, concluding with “I made a mistake last Friday, and I don’t mince words.” At least he owned up to it, which is more than a lot of people do these days. Oh, and by the way, the school thanked him for his service to our country. Nice touch, school officials!
The real kicker is that graduating seniors who chose the military were actually recognized during the ceremony! If only Fletcher could have been there.