NJ Lawmakers: Schools Need to Allow Military Sashes at Graduation
When he saw reports in June of select New Jersey high schools barring graduates from wearing military sashes at their ceremony, Assemblyman Erik Peterson, R-Hunterdon, figured there's no way this is going on in his district.
But he was wrong. A military-bound student at Delaware Valley Regional High School in Frenchtown was blocked from wearing his U.S. Navy sash, according to media reports. Across the state, a student at Point Pleasant Borough High School was told he could not wear a sash indicating he'd be joining the U.S. Marines.
"I gotta tell you, I was really surprised," said Peterson, who had been at Delaware Valley a few weeks earlier for a Memorial Day ceremony.
Peterson and Assembly colleagues have formally introduced legislation that would block any other New Jersey schools from doing this in the future.
"The brave men and women who step up and serve our country with honor deserve to wear their military-issues sashes proudly — just as much as an honors student deserves to wear special decoration," he said.
Under current law, any student who completes basic training and serves as an active duty member of the U.S. Armed Forces is permitted to wear a dress uniform during high school graduation. The new measure would extend the right to military sashes and stoles, given the student has fulfilled local and state requirements to receive a diploma.
Military recruiters issue sashes that denote the graduate's service branch upon enlistment, sponsors of the new legislation said.
"Every year, I go to local high schools to honor students entering the military, and it really makes a difference when we show our support," said Assemblyman Ryan Peters (R-Burlington), who currently serves as a lieutenant commander for SEAL Team 18 in the Naval Reserve. "The morale of our military is important, and we should do what we can to boost it. They earned this recognition."