BRENTWOOD, California. – A Northern California high school principal on Monday issued a public apology, and gave a diploma, an Army reservist who was not allowed to wear his military uniform at his graduation ceremony last week.
Liberty High School Principal Patrick Walsh apologized for a Harland Fletcher, a private first class reservist in the U.S. Army, and took full responsibility for the accident, during a ceremony where many waved American flags.
Fletcher was the Friday ceremony at Liberty High School after the principal told him that he would have to wear a cap and gown over his uniform if he wanted to participate.
“I made a mistake last Friday night, and I have no sheet before the mouth. I deeply regret what happened,” Walsh said.
Walsh held a private ceremony at the high school in Brentwood, California, that was attended by Fletcher’s family and about 100 people, many of them military veterans in uniform, who came out in support of their fellow military.
Fletcher said that he wants to send a message that the army should not be respected, and that the soldiers together. “The uniform for me means, honor, respect, integrity, and stands for the freedom of America,” he said.
The 18-year-old high school graduate said that he did not want to have the ceremony about him, but to emphasize what the military is about.
“I didn’t really need the apology, but I wanted to send a message that the military is about friendship — brothers and sisters standing together, not just letting someone trample over us,” Fletcher said.
Sgt. Duane Edwards, a Vietnam War veteran, attended the ceremony with the rest of the Marine Corps League of Brentwood. He said that he wanted to show his support to the graduation senior after he heard about what had happened on the news.
“What was was, was entirely in conflict with the law,” Edwards said. California law gives Fletcher the right to wear his uniform during graduation.
Fletcher’s wife, Valentina Fletcher, and their 6-month-old son shared in the special moment.
“I think the support is amazing,” said Valentina. “It shows how everyone is here to make sure that the uniform is not respected.”
Fletcher is unsure about what he will do in the near future, but said that he is planning to have a long career in the army.