Brentwood teen snubbed from graduation ceremony over Army uniform gets special ceremony

Image 1 of 3

Hundreds of friends, but mostly strangers, came out to celebrate a Bay Area teenager on Tuesday who was originally not allowed to walk in his high school graduation because he wanted to wear his Army Service Uniform in a special ceremony.

Members of the Fredrom Riders, the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars rallied around Private First Class Medic Harland J Fletcher, a graduate of student at Liberty Union High School in Brentwood. Along with his family and friends, these veterans came to watch Fletcher get his diploma, as he should have a few days earlier with his friends.

His principal, Patrick Walsh, took the podium to apologize for the confusion. "If you make a mistake, you apologize and make it right."

Walsh later said he had regretted telling Fletcher he couldn't walk in his high school graduation on Friday unless he was wearing his graduation robe, not his Army Service uniform. That dress code rule, however, violates state law.

"It hit hard,' Fletcher recalled on Tuesday. "You just can't cover that up."

Fletcher, an active member of the US Army Reserve Medic attended Basic Combat Training between his junior and senior year of high school, enlisted on his 17th birthday, the earliest day possible. This option is known as a "Split Option."

Fletcher says his counselor approved him wearing his Army Service Uniform during the graduation ceremony on Friday. When he arrived to the ceremony, Fletcher says he was told by the principal and vice principal that he must wear the robe in place of his uniform.

Once the news broke, district officials scrambled to sort out the mess and hold a special ceremony for Fletcher. 

His parents were touched. His father said he had no idea hundreds would turn out. "I thought only 10 or 15 people would show up," Bill Fletcher said.