Legislation Assemblymen Vince Mazzeo, Raj Mukherji, Bob Andrzejczak, Bruce Land and Angela McKnight sponsored to allow high school students serving in the United States Armed Forces to wear their military uniforms at their graduation ceremonies gained approval from the General Assembly on Monday.
“Students in the military earned the right to wear their uniforms to graduation on the day they volunteered to put their lives on the line for the United States of America,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “There really should be no debate whatsoever about this issue.”
The bill (A-4019) would allow a student who has completed all requirements for high school graduation and has completed basic training for, and is an active member of, the military to wear the dress uniform issued to him or her by a branch of the United States Armed Forces to the graduation ceremony.
“Young people in New Jersey are proud to serve in the military, and they should be able to display that pride during their graduation ceremonies,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson), who enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve at age 17. “These students ought to be encouraged to walk in their uniforms, not reprimanded for it.”
“The exceptional students who serve in the United States Armed Forces absolutely should be permitted to wear their uniforms to graduation,” said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/Cumberland/Atlantic), a Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient who served in Iraq with the U.S. Army. “Forcing young men and women who clearly are standout individuals to blend into the crowd on graduation day simply doesn’t make any sense.”
“No dress code should ever supersede a young service member’s deep-seated desire to express patriotism at the culmination of his or her high school career,” said Land (D-Cape May/Cumberland/Atlantic), a Bronze Star recipient who served in Vietnam with the U.S. Army. “As a community gathers to honor the academic achievements of its youth, it also should be afforded the opportunity to observe and commend the achievements of those who have committed to defend this nation.”
“Young men and women who have worked hard to both complete high school and make it through basic training deserve the opportunity to celebrate those achievements heartily with their loved ones on graduation day,” said McKnight (D-Hudson). “If wearing their dress uniforms brings these students pride on one of the most important days of their lives, they never should have to think twice about doing so.”
Should the measure become law, New Jersey would join Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and California in allowing military dress at graduation ceremonies.
The measure, which the Assembly passed unanimously, now awaits further Senate consideration.