TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblymen Erik Peterson, Edward H. “Ned’ Thomson and Ryan Peters introduced legislation this week in response to New Jersey high schools that barred graduates from wearing military sashes. Their bill, A5799, expands a current law that requires school districts to allow military-issued dress uniforms at high school graduation ceremonies.
“The brave men and women who step up and serve our country with honor deserve to wear their military-issued sashes proudly — just as much as an honors student deserves to wear special decoration,” said Peterson (R-Hunterdon). “They’ve chosen to put their lives on the line to defend our freedom and we should be supporting them in whatever way we can.”
According to reports, Point Pleasant Borough High School and Delaware Valley Regional High School in Frenchtown both banned military sashes at their graduation ceremonies this year. Recruiters issue sashes that denote the graduate’s service branch upon enlistment.
“These young men and women should be lauded for their decision to join our armed forces. Letting them show off their military branch is a simple way to demonstrate our gratitude,” said Thomson (R-Monmouth). “This bill will ensure school districts respect that decision while still allowing them to govern decorum at graduation.”
Currently, any student who completed basic training and high school diploma requirements, and serves as an active duty member of the United States Armed Forces, is permitted to wear a dress uniform during the ceremony. The new measure would extend the right to wear military stoles and sashes to any student walking in a high school graduation ceremony as long as they fulfilled all the state and local requirements to receive a diploma.
“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 Peters (R-Burlington), a former Navy SEAL 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.”