Student told to cover USMC uniform for high school graduation


A New Hampshire 18-year-old who completes boot camp this week is returning to his high school for his graduation, but was told he has to cover his new uniform if he wants to participate in the ceremony.

New Marines receive their eagle, globe and anchor pins during a ceremony aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C. A New Hampshire high school student who completes boot camp this week, was told by his school administrators that he has to wear a graduation gown over his Marine Corps uniform if he wants to participate in his school ceremony. (Colin Kelly/Staff)

Brandon Garabrant will graduate from Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island on Friday, WMUR reported. He’ll then fly back to New Hampshire to attend his high school graduation and was planning to wear his new Marine Corps uniform there.

But his mom told WMUR that the school’s principal emailed her to tell her that all students should wear school caps and gowns to celebrate their achievements there. He’s welcome to wear his uniform, he added, but needs to cover it with the traditional graduation gown.

“I think covering up with a cap and gown is disgraceful to the uniform,” Garabrant’s mom told WMUR.

Garabrant isn’t the first student who has been told he can’t wear a military uniform to high school graduation. In 2011, Lindsay Starr was told by her Pennsylvania high school that she must wear a cap and gown if she wanted to attend graduation after she left Parris Island. And in 2008, a Wisconsin school board decided against allowing Daniel Ligen to wear his Marine Corps uniform.

Tell us what you think. Is high school graduation a time to focus on school spirit? Or should those who made it through boot camp be allowed to stand out?


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  1. I would never want my uniform to be disgraced…BUT, there are rules and regulations, inside and outside of the Marine Corps. Honestly, I don’t see why they would wear their uniform to their graduation, they should wear a cap and gown. Its not about school spirit, or keeping a Marine from standing out, because Marines should stand out, with or without a uniform. Just not the place or time to wear his Marine Uniform, which I am guessing is the Service “C” uniform.

  2. And no, I don’t mean cover up his uniform, I am not wear it under the gown either. Now if he wants to change out of the gown afterwards and put his uniform on….then by all means, feel free.

  3. Wearing a cap and gown is the traditional uniform for all graduations. Students are asked cover up their clothing and other attire regardless if it’s military uniform or not. It’s not discriminating againist military uniform. That policy applies to all. It’s ment so that every student is equal walking across the stage, the way it should be. Having a student wear their military uniform is just taking away from the graduation ceremony and letting ONE student stick our above the rest. How would we feel at our EGA ceremony if a recruit wore his cap and gown just because he graduated college before going to boot camp? It’s just dumb, there is a time and place for everyting.

  4. I was a homeschool graduate; we did our grad ceremonies as a large group, but I didn’t get a graduation ceremony because I didn’t care and thought it was silly… a day after I had my diploma I was shipping to MCRD san diego.

  5. I feel that this treatment was Un – American, totally unfair and just plain wrong. I feel for Brandon and if famliy. That’s outrageous, and I’m sure hoping that some kind of action being taken over this situation. He deserves more respect. Just aweful.

  6. Victoria Kennedy on

    I think Marines should be allowed to proudly wear their uniforms during HS graduation ceremonies. As a proud mother of a US Marine I feel it would be highly disrespectful to force them to cover their uniforms. And unfair to make them choose to EITHER walk with their class or disrespect the Corps. Shame!

  7. I am tired of listening to all of this “Submit and conform” BS. This young Marine has submitted to the only authority required from him in life from this point forward; and committed to the only membership that will ever matter…the brotherhood of the United States Marine Corps.

    He should be allowed to wear his uniform in the fashion that the USMC Uniform Regulations require. And if not, then he should refuse to take it off, and refuse to walk across that stage.

    Marines should be supporting their brother,……not making excuses on why he should “give in”.


    Chapter five:


    1. Authority

    a. The CMC has extended the privilege of wearing civilian clothing to officers and enlisted Marines within the limitations of these regulations.

    b. The possession and wearing of civilian clothing by Marines may be prescribed by commanders for military reasons. In prescribing civilian clothing, commanders will be guided by the current edition of MCO P10120.28 and directives of higher authority.

    2. Within the United States

    >Ch 5 e. No part of a prescribed uniform, except those items not exclusively military in character, will be worn with civilian clothing.

    This new Marine is FORBIDDEN from wearing that “Cap and Gown” over his uniform.


    MCO P1020.34:





    1. The blue dress “A” uniform is prescribed for parades, ceremonies and formal or semiformal social functions. The blue or blue-white dress “A” uniform, as appropriate, will be prescribed for the following official military/social occasions:

    a. Parades, ceremonies, reviews, solemnities, and entertainments when the commander/senior officer present desires to pay special honors to the occasion.

    d. At daytime formal or semiformal occasions.

    2. The dress “B” uniforms consist of the same items as the corresponding dress “A” uniforms, except that ribbons are worn in lieu of medals. Shooting badges may be prescribed. The blue dress “B” uniform is prescribed for parades, ceremonies, informal social functions, and as the uniform of the day. The blue or blue-white dress “B” uniform ,may also be prescribed for parades, ceremonies, reviews, and at other such solemnities or entertainments as determined by the commander. (ALMAR 144/95)

    This new Marine is REQUIRED to wear his 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.



  8. Randy Waters on

    When I graduated from college I wore my uniform…..under the cap and gown…then as soon as the ceremony was over I took the cap and gown off.

  9. I am glad to see positive answers. It his graduation tradition to wear cap and gown. I agree that it the students could change into their uniforms after if they wanted to.

    Semper Fidelis…RAH!

  10. Stacy Alexander on

    As the proud mother of a US Marine, I’m totally offended that this young Marine is not allowed to wear his uniform knowing that he fulfilled the requirements and EARNED his Eagle, Globe, and Anchor pin. I think it’s shameful to dismiss his accomplishments. Period.

  11. Semper Fi 84-89 on

    Recondoc83, you’ve been saying the same thing on WMUR, quoting uniform regs as if they mean anything in this case. They don’t.

    Rules are rules but he should be exempt from them? Is that the message you’re sending? The rest of us you take to task are giving him good advice, not backing him when he’s wrong. We’re helping him, you’re sending the wrong message.

    You say he “submitted to the only authority required from him in life from this point forward; and committed to the only membership that will ever matter…the brotherhood of the United States Marine Corps.”

    Yes, becoming a Marine IS the most important thing that will ever happen in his life but as a brother I’ll note that other things are important too, there are lots of times he’ll submit to other authority. Are you saying if he gets pulled over he should ignore the police? That if he decides to go to college he shouldn’t meet the graduation requirements put forward by his college? That if he gets married he should ignore those vows? Etc, etc.

    As one person noted above, it’s as if he graduated from college just before boot camp and decides to wear his cap and gown.

  12. I think that it is very petty to forbid a Marine from participating in the graduation ceremony. The problem with people and rules is simple. They hide behind them when they are not interested in change. With any rule, there are always exceptions that are either expressed or implied because no human can discover obstacles or complicated issues that may need to be addressed. other than attempting to maintain control, there is not an educated rationale as to not allowing a member in any of the armed forces participate. Had it not been for the military, there would be no freedom to execute the privilege of obtaining an education, or in this case, the lack of education, being that common sense should be playing a “role” as an administrator bringing forth rational thought processes!

  13. Wear the gown over uniform, as soon as they hand you the diploma, rip the gown off and shove it up their butts!

  14. The schools that force a cap and gown are a disgrace to education and the country. That young people offer themselves as a sacrifice to defend our nation, train to take lives in defense of the principles that govern this nation, and are willing to give their lives for it, if that is what it takes means they should be examples for others to follow, and should be honored specially as are the stupid valedictorians and salutatorians that merely offer placating platitudes to doing good with one’s self, and poetry reading. a GPA and short speech are a lot less important than someone in uniform, demonstrating their wilingness to defend the US Constitution against all threats foreign and domestic should be all the more set apart and absolutely should appear to any grad ceremony in uniform.

  15. Oregon State graduates a large contingent of new Officers via ROTC. They wear uniforms under their cap and gowns. At a point in the ceremony they all remove their cap and gowns and take the oath for commissioned officers. It is an outstanding show of leadership and responsibility.

  16. u·ni·form (yn-fôrm)
    1. Always the same, as in character or degree; unvarying.
    2. Conforming to one principle, standard, or rule; consistent.
    3. Being the same as or consonant with another or others.
    4. Unvaried in texture, color, or design.
    1. A distinctive outfit intended to identify those who wear it as members of a specific group.
    2. One set of such an outfit.
    tr.v. u·ni·formed, u·ni·form·ing, u·ni·forms
    1. To make (something) uniform.
    2. To provide or dress with a uniform.
    [Latin nifrmis : ni-, uni- + frma, shape.]
    uni·formi·ty, uni·formness n.
    uni·formly adv.
    The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

  17. USN OFFICER on

    It is part of being a soldier to understand and conform to the regulations of whatever institutions we are subjected to. He should be proud to wear his service uniform because it takes a certain type of individual to earn something like he has. However, a high school graduation is a time to celebrate his achievements at that school and throughout the 12 years he spend in school. He will have plenty of time to wear his service uniform throughout his tour or career if he chooses to stay in.

  18. Cpl. Pack 1974 MCRD San Diego on

    Even the other posts can not agree on what the Marine dress code says is proper.

    I happened to graduate boot camp and high scholl on the same day, just by coincidence.

    I wore my dress greens to high school graduation. Put on the high school cap and gown on at the last moment, then removed it as soon as possible.

    Even my principal commented on how well I conducted myself, and was glad that I had the pride to wear my uniform. There are rules, and accepted standards of behavior. Both were taught by my school, parents and The Marines.

  19. William Hanrahan on

    We go through this controversy every single year!! You would think by now a family would request permission or understand the school policy well in advance and work it out. Instead, we enforce our will, and create drama that only hurts the relationship between the Marines, the HS and the community. Civilians will never comply with military regs and in this country civilians are not supposed to. I agree it’s the honorable thing to do, but in your face is not the winning TTP. Figure it out, it’s not on the too hard to do list!

  20. the graduation is about everyone not just one person. We are Proud of you Marine but, graduate first then brag. Everyone needs there glory on that night.

  21. I like the uniform of the day response above, that is how it should be.

    It’s funny how most of the people offended are the moms of Marines. You’re not the Marine… get off your high horse.

    You’re a boot that JUST graduated… wear the cap and gown like everyone else. Jesus.

  22. This is why we have issue’s in the Corps. Marines do not want to comply with the rules and regulations inside and outside the Corps. For doc/Moms, Marine Corps regs don’t pertain to the Civilian sector nor do they give a hoot about what the the MCO states. The Education Board is what they follow so for the young Marine, you’re, graduating from High School, not boot camp. Suck it up and wear the Damn Cap and Gown!!!!!

  23. At least he’s allowed to wear his uniform. Other schools in the last few years said no wearing of the uniform, even under the cap and gown.

    The school is in the right in this case.

  24. Wearing the cap and gown to Graduation is tradition. Not wearing his uniform does not diminish his accomplishment of becoming a US Marine, that is not what this is about. This ceromony is to honor his graduating from high school. This young man WILL stand out because he is a Marine.
    If the family wants it recognized at the ceremony have them call his name ( Pvt. PFC ) Brandon Garabrant
    Or like they did at my sons graduation they had the students stand up and be recognized for their planning to go into the service. In Brandon’s case completed basic.
    Remember this is just one day, actually just a few hours.

  25. Their are two entities here. IF this young Marine feels it is important enough to go back and attend his graduation, then he should comply with tradition…which is wearing the cap and gown. I went in 18 days after graduation so I did not have to contend with that however the Marine Corps uniform is important as well. It would not be a big deal to me. Just wear the uniform under the gown and as soon as you receive the diploma and walk across the stage you can easily shed the cap and gown and reveal Superman…how hard is it? You killed two birds with one stone, you graduated and you became a Marine…enjoy it and quit trying to turn it into a circus.

  26. Pingback: High school to new Marine: Don’t wear uniform at graduation — Off Duty Plus

  27. Why even attend high school graduation? Caps and gowns look silly and your HS diploma is worth less than my roll of toilet paper. HS grad is like kindergarten grad was 25 years ago.

  28. This is a high school graduation… wear the cap and gown. Good on him for graduating boot camp but there’s a time and place for everything. BOOT.

  29. Disgraceful! His uniform signifies all of his achievements!! I understand traditonal but that should be for those whom are civilian students.

  30. Have to disagree with the comment above saying that he “must” wear the uniform to this event. Nowhere in there does it say it “must” be worn, just what the proper uniform is for an event. Civvies are fine.

    High School graduation has its own traditions. It is not un-American for high schools to require cap and gown. In fact, it is no different from the USMC requiring uniforms in some places.

    This is a no-brainer. Wear your civvies with your cap and gown. Be proud of the achievement of graduating high school and celebrate accordingly. Change into your uniform after the ceremony. Stop raising a fuss because you don’t get to do just what you want wherever you want regardless of the tradition of the event.

  31. These stories popup from time to time. It is usually not the Marine making such a fuss(though it sometimes is), but rather their parents/some concerned citizen.

    If the school administration says that students walking in the graduation must wear the cap and gown then that’s the way it is. It isn’t un-American, un-patriotic, anti-military or anything else. Any boot that cries about not being able to be a special snowflake at their high school graduation is in for a rude awakening in the fleet. And any parent who cries for them is setting them up for failure.

    Being in the military, especially the Marine Corps, isn’t about “me” or what you want to do. It’s not about how you want to express yourself, your pride, or anything else. It’s about service to your nation, and service to your brethren in arms. This kind of namby-pamby “look at me” stuff detracts from what we as Marines do — fight battles and win wars.

    If the Marines in question truly wanted to show their pride in having graduated bootcamp during their high school graduation there are better ways of doing so that are inconspicuous and would be allowed. Why not wear an Eagle Globe and Anchor pin, or if the school allows decoration of the caps, put something on it?


  32. Wear your cap and gown like everybody else. You just had your graduation in USMC uniform. Look up the definition of “uniform”, it means THE SAME. No one cares that you just graduated boot camp. It is the time to recognize high school accomplishments, wearing a military uniform is selfish, you don’t see anyone wearing a Taco Bell uniform to graduation.

  33. I can sort of understand the schools positions however I can also understand the young man wanting to wear his uniform. He learned something from both and he is very proud if his achievements. I would think the school would also be just as proud if any person who graduated from their school and went on to serve their country. He or she got their education here in this school and with that education they have chose to defend the right for a good solid education which we have proved them. It’s not just about the USMC but any branch for that matter. What I enjoyed reading a few days ago was a man who didn’t get the chance to walk arcoss the stage and get his diploma. WW2 broke out and he joined up. Became a mechanic was sent to Cherry Point NC and later into the south pacific. The school is allowing this man of 80 plus years to walk across with the class of 2013 and the class are very happy with it. He is not from NC but another state in the north.

  34. My college had no cap and gown requirements and many people chose to use the cerermony to make some sort of point and to bring attention to themselves, including one guy who wore baggy shorts, no shirt, and no shoes. Cap and gown assures uniformity and placement of the ceremony above the individual. Marines should know all about that. The USMC does not require wearing the uniform at a school graduation but does prohibit him wearing gown over it, so he should not wear the uniform.

  35. I graduated from Parris Island in 1969 as a marine I knew and understood I was still a boot. Marine join the real Corps a HS Graduation is a civilian ceremony and when you are a participant you are expected to obey the uniform of the day – Cap and Gown. What the hell did they teach you in boot camp that gave you the idea that you can be a non conformist? you think this is pride in the Corp? how about you get off your ego trip and act like a real Marine.

  36. I ditto USN Officer. Its about the last 12 years as a student finishing with High School. Celebrate it! You will be wearing your USMC uniforms for the next 4 plus years. If you feel you have to wear it wear it under your cap and gown.

  37. blacksunbird4211 on

    I see that one set of uniform rules are set in opposition of the other…Solution: Wear the uniform under the cap and gown…and the moment you receive your diploma, step out of the cap and gown and now you’re in uniform as the Marine uniform regulation is prescribed…problem solved.

  38. Leo Gonzalez on

    Its a school graduation…cap and gown are the uniform to be used…simply because one is a Marine doesnt mean he can change the rules of an institution set for the event..wear the uniform afterwards…i dont see what the big deal is…

    when one graduates anything he needs to wear his military uniform?

  39. I thinks it’s a disgrace that civilians don’t understand the pride and honor that goes into a service member’s uniform. To display the uniform in public is a proud moment. It wouldn’t hurt a thing to let those service members wear only their uniform at graduation. The school boards need to get off their power trip.

  40. This is a celebration of completing high school and, while I appreciate this new Marine’s pride, I must agree with the school principal that he wear the appropriate cap and gown. I expect this is a sensitive topic but Pvt Garabrant can show his pride by wearing his uniform at post graduation ceremony events.

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