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Friday, May 20, 2005

 

From the Halls of Montezuma....but not through the halls of Plymouth H.S.

David Walker has become the focus of polarization and controversy. From a family steeped in military service and traditions, David knew by age 11 that he would serve his country in some way. After much reading, deliberation, and talking with his step-father, Ted Grubbs, David chose the United States Marine Corps. David Walker is now a Marine. An outstanding Marine. He graduated early from high school and promptly shipped to boot camp. He graduated from boot camp and earned a meritorious promotion to Private First Class. Walker finished his advanced infantry training on 17 May with several awards. He fired Expert with the rifle. All of this after his guidance counselor, Mr. Featherstone, had made disparaging comments about David's ambitions, including, "so you want to carry a rifle around?".

One of David's ambitions was to attend his class graduation ceremony, and walk across the stage in USMC Dress Blues. This will not happen. Principal Dick Tobias has deemed USMC Dress Uniform "inappropriate". He has managed to polarize portions of the student body, the local community, and the larger culture with this bone-headed decision.

Throughout the history of Western Civilization, military formal uniforms have been appropriate attire for formal public occasions. The argument has been advanced that by wearing Dress Blues, PFC Walker will somehow detract from the honor accorded the Class of 2005. The reverse is true. By wearing the visual display of over 200 years of tradition, a Marine inspires honor. A Marine shows by example that which others may aspire to. Only those who fear that they may not measure up are threatened by that example. Those threatened persons include those who are ignorant of our history, and those who are not ignorant, but are offended by our history. Some of those who are offended have passed this attitude on to students, which has led to the letter below.

Most of my information about this travesty comes from Ted Grubbs and SB Tribune reports. This morning, after leaving work in Plymouth, Indiana, I went to Plymouth H.S. in an attempt to speak with Mr. Tobias. The school receptionist informed me that he was at a meeting. She and I discussed the issue. She pretty much parroted the now-Party line in the news report, that Walker's wear of a uniform would somehow detract from honoring the class as a whole. The lady also informed me that her husband, a Viet Nam War veteran, was in agreement with the principal. Hey, Gang- I'm a Viet-era veteran, too. I serve now as a State officer. Let me say this again- a Service Dress Uniform is appropriate attire for formal occasions.

PFC Walker is now serving on active duty. Because of Mr. Tobias' obstruction and reported hostility to all things military, David now will most likely not be able to obtain leave in time to attend graduation. If he is able to attend, he has said that he may opt to sit in the audience, wearing his Dress Blues. The Plymouth H.S. graduation will be held 27 MAY 05 at 2000EST. Go if you are able; wear a dress uniform if you're entitled to. Go to honor the Class of 2005. Go to honor one brave young American who serves, that others may be free to be jackasses.

May 13, 2005

Senior class officers support uniform decision
Plymouth graduation not the time for dress blues, they say in letter.

By JOSHUA STOWE
Tribune Staff Writer


PLYMOUTH -- Commencement is not the time for graduates to wear military uniforms, senior class officers at Plymouth High School say.

Officers of the school's class of 2005 have signed a letter supporting Principal Dick Tobias' stance against the wearing of such uniforms during the graduation ceremony.

The issue arose recently when the parents of David Walker, who is now on active duty as a U.S. Marine, requested that he be allowed to wear his dress blues at the high school's graduation later this month.

Tobias said that graduation was not the time to wear the uniform by itself, since graduation honors the class, not the individual. In addition, Tobias said that Walker could wear his uniform at a senior awards event, and that Walker, like other graduates entering the military, could wear a red, white and blue cord around his neck during graduation.

Officers Ryan Pickell, Austen Black, Stephanie Welch, Jill Cartwright and Kyle Benge signed a letter supporting Tobias and his stance. The Tribune obtained a copy of the letter Thursday night.

"As being elected by our fellow peers," the letter reads, "we the class officers feel that as leaders it is our responsibility to represent our class in this matter.

"We firmly believe in Principal Tobias' reasons for requiring strict dress and we also agree with the alternative plan of allowing David Walker to wear special cords," their letter further reads.

"Since our class will be graduating as a whole on May 27th, we request that the class of 2005 be recognized as a whole, symbolized by dressing the same," the letter also says.

Welch, class vice president, elaborated during a telephone interview on Thursday night.

"We just felt that we wanted to be recognized as a class," she said, adding that if the school allowed Walker to forgo cap-and-gown attire, others might request exceptions as well. "We just wanted to back Mr. Tobias since there's been a lot of controversy over it."

Benge, who also signed the letter, agreed, saying in a separate telephone interview that he has a sister who will soon be graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy and he supports Walker's decision to serve.

"We just want to graduate as a whole class, but that doesn't take anything away from what he (Walker) is doing," he said. "I wish him the best of luck."

Staff writer Joshua Stowe:

jstowe@sbtinfo.com

(574) 936-1021

http://southbendtribune.com/stories/2005/05/13/local.20050513-sbt-MARS-B1-Senior_class_officer.sto

Update 23 MAY o5
Letters written by PFC Walker's family (some editing for formatting and physical contact info only):

From: Ted Grubbs
To: Jhekel@thepilotnews.com
Sent: Sunday, April 24, 05 9:14 PM
Subject: Graduation attire not acceptable


I am hoping that this letter will reach out to the people of Plymouth
and surrounding areas on the tragic attitude of Plymouth High School and
the Plymouth School Board's decision to deny my son the right to wear
his Marine dress blues for his high school graduation. This all started
around the third week of March after our son PFC. David Walker (U.S. Marines) returned to California (Camp Pendelton) for his School Of Infantry training, my wife Sue had spoke to Mr.Tobias about David walking across the stage to receive his diploma in his dress blues. He told my wife he would check with the school board and see what there thoughts on it would be and get back with her. When he returned her call he told us it was not going to happen because it was inapproate
dress and everyone had to wear a cap and gown. Well we felt David had
earned the right to do so and he worked hard for it. Mr. Tobias also
told us that they worked with us to let David graduate early, well
unless they took the test's for him and did his homework , David had
earned it on his own. We decided to call the Mayor who lent a
sympathetic ear but it was out of his hands. Governor Mitch Daniels
office had about the same response. The Indiana Department of Education
told us to take it up with the school board . I called Mark Gidley and
spoke with him, and to his surprise Mr.Tobias had never said anything to him or the board about it so basically he lied to my wife. Mr.Gidley told me he would get back with me in a few days with a response from the board. About 3 days later he
called me and we spoke , He told me that they had a idea that we could
both agree on . For my son (David) to still wear the cap and gown and
they would get a special ribbon to acknowledge he was in the military
and announce him as PFC David Walker U.S.M.C but he had to cover his
uniform. For one we never asked for any special recognition for him all
we asked was for him to wear his dress blues, and anyone who has ever
served our country in the armed forces knows your not allowed to cover
your uniform. Then he stated that the student body was given a selection
on what they would like to wear. So I suggested that we poll the
students and faculty on how they would felt about David wearing his
dress blues for Graduation . Then Mr. Gidley said we can't leave all the
decisions up to the kids. And after a few minutes on the phone with
Mr.Gidley he was raising his voice and saying he couldn't understand why
we wouldn't compromise. And I said this isn't about a compromise it's
about the fact David worked hard to leave early and he deserves the
right to do this , And I would think they would be proud to show what
their school has produced but sadly they are not. Mr. Gidley said we are
not trying to take anything away from David he just won't allow him to
wear his dress blues.
I finally spoke with our son David about the school and the school
boards response and he was upset. David said " If I can't walk across in
my dress blues then I wont walk across at all " This really upset my
wife, our family, and friends and myself.We will not be seeing our son
walk across the stage. Sadly after all this time even if they did change
their mind I doubt David will be able to get leave to come home for
Graduation. So our only goal now is to see that this never happens to
another kid who is willing to serve their country and want the same as
David. I pray that they community and especially the Veterans find this
as disturbing as we do, especially during a time of war.


Ted & Sue Grubbs

Date: Sun, 1 May 2005 14:18:37 -0700 (PDT)
From: Sue Grubbs
Subject: M.O.M
To: Jhekel@thepilotnews.com

Their is an old saying " It takes someone special to be a Mom". With mothers day upon us I would like to thank all Moms and Mothers. You see there is a difference between the two. A mother is someone who watches her children grow from an infant to a fine adult. I'm very blessed to have watched two of my own grow. One has gone onto college and found a career. The other one has chosen a bold and noble profession. This is where being a Mom comes in. You see I'm a Mother and a Mom "Mother of a Marine". Yes there is actually a group of us M.O.M.S who back our sons and daughters especially now during a time of war. Especially when a request as simple as graduating high school in his Marine dress blues. Plymouth High school principal and the Plymouth School Board has deemed this "inappropriate attire".My son(PFC David Walker)is not asking for any special recognition . He is asking for something he has earned, The right to graduate in his Marine dress blues. Please let the principal and the school board know they should be proud of their young men and women in uniform by letting them dress in the uniform of their branch. Anything else is unacceptable. And this is not only for David, Its for anyone else who wants the same.

Suzanne Grubbs , Mother of a Marine , PFC David Walker




From: "henry wroblewski"
Subject: FW: SCHOOL BOARD LOST IN THE 60'S ?
Date: Sun, 24 Apr 2005 19:47:00 -0500

It looks like the Plymouth IN. school board is lost in the 60's to this
grandfather. You see, I have a grandson who did an accelerated study
program so he could finish his senior year early in order to start his
new job. An out of town job he started on the 7th of December 2004, and
he is doing quite well at it, he has already been meritoriously promoted
once.

At any rate he thought it might be nice to come back to good old
Plymouth IN. to receive his diploma with the rest of his senior class
but, he would rather not wear a cap and gown. Much like the members of
academia who will be wearing their Masters robes and hoods that night;
he would like to signify his accomplishments since he completed his
senior studies and left good old Plymouth IN. However; Mr. Tobias, the
principal, and the school board deemed his alternative outfit to be
inappropriate dress. His new employer does not allow him to wear
anything to cover or alter this "inappropriate dress" and my grandson is
quite proud of what he has earned the right to wear. Oh,yes, I forgot to
give my grandson's name. He is PFC David L. Walker, and as to the
inappropriate dress to receive his diploma; that would be the dress
blues of the United States Marines!!

This attitude toward the uniform of our country sends me back to the
60's when I wore mine. Get over it Plymouth IN., my distain for that
attitude is as strong today as it was forty years ago!

I am glad I'm not from Plymouth. In my home town; under like
circumstances, the uniform of our country would be allowed and the man
or woman wearing it would be applauded.

I would hope the good people of Plymouth IN. will enlighten their school
board, and in the future allow their fine men and women on active duty;
under like circumstances, to receive their diploma in the uniform of our
country.

As for my grandson it turns out that he probably will not be able to get
back home to receive his diploma in person. While the rest of his class
is thinking of the prom and where to party; he will be completing his
next Marine school, and will probably have earned his second meritorious
promotion. While some of his "CLASS OF 2005" is thinking of frolicking
in the sands of Lake Michigan, he will be thinking of doing his job in
the sands of IRAQ.

Yep, I am sure glad I'm not from Plymouth IN.

To the school board; like many of you, I paid for the education that
allows me to wear the Masters robe and hood. That can be measured in dollars.

To my fellow veterans; like you I earned the right to wear the uniform
of our country. That cannot be measured in dollars. What do you think of
your school board's decision? Let them know where you stand on their
graduation policy.

Henry S. Wroblewski





Update 28 MAY o5
There I was, in my newly re-tailored and dry-cleaned Class A's, and the FASTACmobile refused to start. After about 15-20 minutes, the truck finally fired but only ran on 2 or 3 cylinders. Later today I'll attempt to deal with the truck.
So, like PFC Walker, I missed the Plymouth H.S. graduation. From what I know of the Corps, if Mr. Tobias had officially requested David's presence in Dress Blues, the Corps would have delivered him. By airdrop, if necessary.

Immediately after the ceremony, David's father phoned me with a SITREP:
David's Marine recruiter and a mixed handful of Army Reserve and ARNG soldiers attended in dress uniform. They enthusiastically cheered students who were military early-entrants, as denoted by their neck-cords. David Walker's name was not called, though it was printed in the program. When asked afterward by David's mother, Messrs. Tobias and Gandy stated that since David would not be there, there was no reason to acknowledge him. Or have his diploma available for the family to pick up.

Mr. Grubbs went on to re-tell me of David's high school History experience, "they went from WWI to Viet Nam in 3 weeks, and threw in one lecture on the 1991 Gulf War". One lesson here for all of us: attend school board meetings. We mandate public schooling, then turn poorly educated people loose to determine and implement the curriculum. Hence, the "Public Fool" system.

Dick Tobias is retiring from his position. Mr. Gandy will become the new H.S. Principal. Feel free to let them know what you think of their acknowledgement of the military in time of World War.

PLYMOUTH HIGH SCHOOL
810 N Randolph St
Plymouth, IN 46563
Marshall County
Phone: (574) 936-2178
Richard Tobias, Principal
Donald Gandy, Asst. Principal
Dan Tyree, Asst. Principal

If you encounter any of David's civilian classmates, you might remind them of those who guard their privilege to remain self-centered and ignorant.

Comments:
The school is correct. The Marine boy wants to stand out and be "special." He needs to learn that he should subsume his selfish desires for the good of the group - just like he will have to do in military service.

This is totally ridiculous.
 
Dear Anonymous:
First let me thank you for an anonymous post. Those are always the most thoughtful.
Any Marine stands out and IS "special". All American service men and women ARE special. By your argument, we should also omit the valedictory speaker. Perhaps have graduates' mothers wear the same dresses. Or bhurka.
Wearing Class A's is not selfish. It is a statement of pride, honor, duty, integrity, service to one's country- all concepts with which I'm sure you have only a passing familiarity.
You're right- you don't measure up. Here's your sign.
 
The principal is the CO of the school. He sets the uniform of the day. It is his perogative. He does not have to and should not need to explain. It happens to be cap and gown. Go to the graduation in dress uniform, put on the cap and gown for the ceremony, after the recessional march out of the hall, throw off the cap and gown and recover with the appropriate headgear. you'll impress more with your style and restraint then by trying to change the uniform rule.
 
landroll:
Valid point. I believe the Marine uniform was prohibited under the gown, as well. The uniform issue was discussed with the principal at the time Walker's early graduation was first discussed. Tobias made no comment either way at that time.
I will try to obtain and post first-hand accounts of this mess ASAP. I still believe, especially in time of war, that Class A's are appropriate attire. There is a segment of our society that would like to pretend that the military is not important, or even necessary. The uniform is a visible symbol of our country that I believe needs to be seen as a positive, and much more frequently.
 
The big argument seems to be that graduation is not an individual thing, but a class thing. If this is the case, then I would be right in assuming there will be no individual diplomas, just a big class diploma? There will be no individual names read over the P.A., just a generic "Class of 2005"? There will be no individual honors and no valedictorian?

Since this isn't about individual accomplishment, I suppose we can also assume that those who did not complete a course of study, or did not get passing grades will still be graduating, since its just a big group "Class" thing?

Of course messages on the mortarboards will be banned, no ribbons, no jewelry, identical clothing showing beneath the robe, identical footwear, identical hair styles, lengths and colors? We wouldn't want anything that might distinguish one individual from another since this is to honor the "class".

This argument is so ridiculously lame that even a third grader could see through it. The Marine Uniform is "inappropriate" because it represents the hated military, defenders of the all-evil U.S.A.

Sheesh!
 
landroll says: "The principal is the CO of the school. He sets the uniform of the day. It is his perogative."

No, he is not. He is a public servant with administrative oversight as opposed to command authority. To assert that formal wear is inappropriate at a formal event is ludricous.
 
To those of you who have followed this story and supported it, My wife and I would like to thank you . And to those of you who would like to stand in the shadows and remain silent , find a deeper hole. The fact remains that all military personell put their lives on the line so we can have the freedoms that some many neglect.And to call the uniform of our country innappropriate and to spit on all our veterans and active personall with this comment , just goes to show the anti-military attitude in Plymouth Community High school. God Bless all of our troops, and no matter what my son is very proud of his dress blues and would never cover a tradition that runs deep and many have paid the ultimate price to insure that . And will never be forgotton . And I would like to give a special thanks to the editor for all his hard work and support on this .. Thanks ,
Ted & Sue Grubbs
Proud Parents of PFC David Walker
 
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