Why Can't Military Recruits Wear Honor Cords?


Military recruits in Fairfax County, VA, won’t be wearing red, white and blue honor cords to high school graduation as a symbol of their commitment to military service.  Instead, principals at each school in this district outside Washington DC have been instructed to work with student leaders in order to agree on a “meaningful way to honor enlistees.”

Whatever that means.  Washington Post reporter Emma Brown described it like this:

Board member Ryan McElveen (At Large), who opposed the honor-cord amendment, said graduations are about honoring past achievements, not necessarily about lauding future commitments.  Singling out military enlistees could lead schools down a “slippery slope,” he said, in which they are expected to honor future teachers, firefighters, police officers, librarians and astronauts.  “All of our graduates are going to serve our country,” McElveen said. “That’s what we prepare them to do.”
That would be a nice expectation if that is really what the school board expects.  To me, this looks like a lot of fancy footwork to avoid the politics behind military service in this country.   After all, the parents who lobbied for this program were not asking for a full-blown, Patton-style homage to war.  Instead, they were looking for a quiet way to honor these young men and women who have passed the increasingly difficult standards to enter the service.  They wanted this little $4 red/white/blue honor cord.  And that was deemed too much.

Across the country, honor cords are worn during graduation ceremonies to signify that someone has graduated with straight As.  Or has superior achievement in Art or Social Studies.  Or has contributed a certain number of hours of community service.  So why doesn’t military service quality?

In the interest of full disclosure, you should know that my own high school senior is graduating in June and is joining the Army.  I would love to see my kid and all the other kids at that school get some kind of recognition from the local community that they are going into the service. I know these kids.  As an Air Force brat and a Navy wife, I am so aware that once they join the service they will rarely return to their home communities  An honor cord is such a little thing, a way to say goodbye and good luck and, please, do us proud.

Navy wife Jacey Eckhart is Editor of SpouseBuzz and author of I Married a Spartan??  The Care and Feeding of Your Military Marriage available on iTunes, Amazon, and on www.jaceyeckhart.com.


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