Marine Ordered To Wear Cap, Gown For High School Graduation

WEXFORD (KDKA) — A local Marine wore a cap and gown instead of her uniform dress blues during her high school graduation ceremony after all.

Pvt. Lindsay Starr, 17, participated in North Allegheny High School’s graduation. Starr finished high school early and then joined the Marines.

She just finished boot camp earlier this month and returned home to Wexford in order to walk with her classmates. She wanted to wear her dress blues during the ceremony, but the school district initially said she had to be in a cap and gown.

In a change of heart on Thursday, the district released a statement that said Starr would be allowed to wear her military uniform during the graduation.

However, KDKA’s Marty Griffin is reporting that Congressman Jason Altmire says that the Marines have told Starr not to wear her uniform.

Starr’s interview with KDKA Investigator Marty Griffin created a political firestorm heard all the way in Washington DC in the offices of Congressman Jason Altmire, D-McCandless.

“Private Starr in my opinion is a hero,” he said. “She’s somebody who exemplifies everything that America is about. It’s what we want Americans to be and I think North Allegheny should be and I’m sure is extremely proud of her accomplishment.”

Marine higher-ups told Starr to follow orders and wear the cap and gown, enjoy herself and prepare to serve her country.

The district initially told Starr she was not permitted to wear her dress blues, but after citing a 2010 law granting a sort of cap and gown exemption to anyone in the military, they did an about face.

“The situation maybe could have been handled better, but it doesn’t take anything away from the fact Private Starr is a hero and we are so proud of her,” Altmire said.

Marine insiders tell Marty Griffin this situation will not affect Starr’s career in the Marines.

Starr was instructed not to talk to the media.

U.S. Marine Corps
Marine Not Allowed To Wear Uniform For High School Graduation
North Allegheny Will Permit Marine To Wear Uniform For High School Graduation
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  • p. towers

    Maybe, the Marines didn’t like all the fuss……………………..which shows that, at least, the MARINES didn’t want the publicity!!

    • Wendy Miles

      Do you know that their military picture is taken with them in a T shirt and that the uniform is super imopsed on their picture.

      • Bill Wendt

        When I served in the USMC, we wore t-shirts, and the tunic was a false front tunic.

    • Sue Grafton

      Maybe she should have checked policy

      • Sue Grafton

        Ms. Starr did not have her Father’s permission to join the Marines. The news station was called to let them know that they probably don’t want to push this story. Too many people know there was not second signature and if there is – it is a forgery. They said go away. The school was then called with the same information. I wonder did they pass along this information to the Marines? The recruiter did some dirty dealings because she KNEW her father refused to sign, Shame on the news station for participating in this circus .

      • Sue Grafton

        ADMINISTRATOR: I wish you would stop removing my posts. Truth has a way of getting out…even when it reveals that a news station had no interest in reporting the truth.

  • Kate

    If one is courageous enough to put on a uniform of our country and serve to save our nation – then by gosh they can wear their uniform at graduation and stand out among the black & gold of North Allegheny. Maybe more kids coming out of high school should be serving THEIR country.

    • Bill Wendt

      No, In Boot Camp , Marines are taught the importance of Customs,Traditions and Uniformity. The cap and gown are a uniform. The purpose of a uniform is to show that all of the members are equal. As the “Dress Blue” uniform is to the Marines, so too should be the Cap and Gown to the graduates

  • Pitt Fan

    Racist much?

    • Pitt Fan

      And you follow one racist comment with another. Take a look at what you said: “EVERYONE black”

      That’s called being racist. What does her being black have to do with this situation? Nothing.

      So, like I said: Racist much?

    • Dan

      not racist stupid…Just sick of everyone black thinking they can do whatever they want, and if you tell them no then it becomes racist….Just act like everyone else and wear a cap and gown..its a graduation not a marine training drill

    • wiiumadtho

      it ain’t racist if it’s true

  • Kris

    Is there so little to report that the news covers this? Are they that desperate? Who cares!!!

  • Pitt Fan

    And of course, she’s changed her mind already because she’s a teenager and doesn’t know anything about anything.

    • Jill

      Your link states what this KDKA link already stated???

  • Mike

    Well, the Marines made her look like an idiot, didn’t they? Maybe she should have just acted like a normal human being and worn what she was supposed to. People will do anything for attention…

    • Kay


  • A Veteran

    The Uniform of the Day for a high school graduation is a cap and gown in the appropriate school colors. Not a military uniform, not a firefighters uniform, not a Boy Scout uniform or any other occupational or organizational attire. This is not the proper place for singling oneself out by wearing something completely different from what all of her other classmates are wearing. This ceremony is to celebrate the academic achievements of the graduating class of 2011, not to display the uniforms of our chosen career path, military or otherwise.

    The military has strict guidelines and regulations in place that govern the wearing of military uniforms by service men and women. Having just graduated from Boot Camp this young woman should have known that it is improper to wear the Marine Corps dress blue uniform to a ceremony such as a high school graduation when everybody else is dressed in the appropriate attire for the function, which is a cap and gown.

    This young woman should certainly be commended for her decision to join the Marine Corps and serve her country. I’m sure her school would be honored to have her come back in her uniform and be a positive role model for all of the students of her high school.

    Semper Fidelis, Godspeed, and God bless all of our young men and women who chose to serve in the armed forces of our country.

    • Air Force Mom

      I agree well said. My son is in the Air Force and knows dress blues are for official Air Force business only. She will have many chances to wear her dress blues – her graduation is the only day she will be able to wear a cap and gown.

    • missy

      well put.

    • A CMilitary Veteran

      Well said. Given that she’s new to the military, sort of obvious she didn’t clue in / should have asked the chain. I think she’ll do well, for “she has guts, and guts is good enough.”

      • erin smith

        The Law gave her the right. She did have a clue. Civilian just didn’t bother checking it out first.

    • Lisa

      Bravo! You summed up the situation perfectly, and I commend you for your input. Thank you for your service to our country – we appreciate your sacrifice as well as the maturity to look at this situation properly.

    • Jim

      Well stated.

    • Dan

      Amen !

    • Amy

      Finally an intelligent comment among all the others on here. Thank you for your service!!!

    • Jan

      Thank you for your wonderful summation on this news story. Also, thank you very much for your service to our country. You are well spoken and you are an example of how our military men and women should present themselves!

    • Debbie

      Well Said

    • marilyn

      I agree with others who have commented on this reply. First, thank you for your service to our country and second, for stating the facts so well. Maybe KDKA should have checked into things before reporting them. They have a way of dramatizing everything. This story should have never gone as far as it did. Agan, comment well said.

      • Parent & Citizen

        Re: Maybe KDKA should have checked into things before reporting them.

        Exactly. Investigator Marty Griffin didn’t investigate thoroughly before using his talk show to turn this into a circus. You would think that someone at KDKA would have been responsible enough to find out if the young Marine was authorized to be speaking to the media. This was “conduct unbecoming” a major television and radio station. But it got them national attention, plenty of website hits, and even the local Congressman got to give a sound bite. And in the end, the US Marine Corps had to step up and straighten things out.

        So what was accomplished here? What was Mr. Griffin’s agenda? Perhaps we all feel more patriotic now, while the young Marine has to go back to base and face her superiors and her peers; the North Allegheny school district is left to sweep up after an argument that it didn’t start; and KDKA basks in the sun.

  • You in Trouble

    Those Marines that did not allow her to where the uniform are probably her chain of command and I am willing to bet that they are highly motivated to rip her a new a-hole as soon as she reports back to the command. YOU NEVER, NEVER EVER try to step on your chain of commands foot, especially when it gets public attention like this and you almost certainly do not go to the press without command approval.

    • Joan

      I agree – and its too bad someone – an EDUCATED ADULT with SOME SENSE at KDKA – didnt avoid this embarrassment of all parties involved. In addition, the military knows that it is important to be able to pick their battles, not have some recruit run off and start their own war. They already have many public issues this past year concerning studies they have done, resulting in stating what they feel are deficits in this nation’s public educational system, drop outs, and the type of recruits they’ve been getting. A young girl’s drama – SEVENTEEN mind you – naive, fresh out of boot camp, and has not yet ‘served’ – a drama about what to wear! and insisting on change in structures that have already been effectively and honorably in place in all levels of education through many wars is very much NOT what the military would consider a worthy battle. Anyone familiar with HS & university graduations throughout the ‘Western’ world – the dress code is cap & gown. period. What a sad embarrassment. She didnt learn the proper military etiquette, her family did not guide her, her school did not take her aside and advise her to talk to her command first (or she didnt listen) and KDKA paid responsible attention to nothing and threw her out into the media glare. BOO! BOO! BOO!

      • Angleina

        “A Veteran” said it best, but I want to add that Marty Griffin is an idiot and I am not sure why KDKA would hire someone like him.

    • Lou Gagliardi

      Considering there is a loophole in the law/school policy for military personnel, I doubt her superior officers will rip her a new a-hole. They’ll more than likely calmly explain it to her, especially this is her first incident.

      I could see if she was a 30 year old or had more experience, then totally rip her a new a-hole.

      • fastcompany

        Lou ,you just sound like a liberal tree hugging hippie that would support some BS like this. If you had ever served and or been in war zone you would understand how stuff like this spreads like cancer and can not be tolerated ! Go back outside and enjoy the freedom I gave you goofball!

  • armed + services » Blog Archive » Marine Won’t Graduate in Uniform After All

    […] just trying to show pride in what I belong to now,” Starr told  KDKA. “I belong to the United States Marine Corps as a […]

  • Joan

    hmmm. We’ll see. The FIRST THING I did when I read the first iteration of this story was go look up what the military guidelines regarding this were. Like I said above – there were multiple people who had responsibility in protecting a naive young girl.

  • Sam

    There is a proper uniform for graduation and valid rules supporting it.

    I served over 20 years on active duty and retired in 2009.

    I don’t and never did use my service to get an exception to a rule. And I certainly don’t toss lines like “people died to protect our freedoms’ to justify why I should be allowed to bend the rules.

    I wonder what would’ve happened if she insisted on wearing a cap and gown to boot camp graduation.

  • Vanessa Hawes

    1st of all I think the whole point was she was proud to wear her uniform instead of the traditional cap n grown and for her to have acheieved a great accomphishment for her age. 2nd of all some of the above comments saying she was just making a point cause of her being black is just ludicrous! Why am I not surprise though! After all this is the new South! The Burg isn’t as cultrual as it’s made out to be. I’ve lived in Florida and never saw anything like the things and comments of seen here. It’s not always a White&Black thing, It’s a human being thing. People wise up this is a free society not for zealots only!!

  • Mike

    Did you see Altmeyer call her a hero? What a moron. She’s just a 17 year old who went through boot camp. The word has lost it’s impact through overuse and misuse.

    • Whatagoof

      Marty Griffin and Jason Altmeyer don’t know the meaning of Hero. This should have never happened and the blame should fall on Griffin. The staion should send him out to talk to Marines about growing up and not becoming an idiot

  • Louis B

    The young Starr’s biggest problem is that she called Marty Griffin now both of them and the management at KDKA look like ridiculous fools. Marty is a train wreck and should be derailed

  • Lou Gagliardi

    So if she was white, you’d have no problem with her causing “drama”?

    She wanted to wear her dress blues. The district said no, then saw a way for her to do so. But then the Marines–HER BOSS–told her not to.

    I don’t see how she caused drama. She was standing up for her rights as military personnel. So as Pitt Fan said, racist much?

    • Dan

      Lou ,yes, if she was white I would have a problem with her causing DRAMA.. I was in the military and this makes me just as sick as the jerks who get arrested and wear the uniform to court. As a marine and a soldier you are to be proud and obey orders, not cause drama and make the rest of us look like we support this clown show!

  • Daniel

    First I commend this young woman for what she has accomplished. I am sure that her family is proud. I know I am and I do not even know her. But I agree that the cap and gown should be worn here. This is the high school graduation and not boot camp graduation. Go forth and serve and be proud.

    • puff

      Future welfare mom with excuses watch and see.

      • Vanessa Hawes

        Puff you have real issues, that’s exactly what I meant in my comment about the The Burgh being the new South! It’s sooo apparent that you are not cultured at all. It’s the same sad story of people like you who sterotype other people by looking at their color. I bet she’s accomplishment more than some people you know and maybe yourself included. Go get a clue, and get better educated!

      • Vanessa Hawes

        Dude Puff, You must think you are sooo superior to other’s. Do yourself a favor and take a REFRESHER COURSE IN HUMANITY AND GET CULTIVATED.That’s if you even know what that means!! You need a prayer, a hug, or both!!

      • Puff

        Vanessa Hawes you need a refresher course in spelling and grammar. I grew up with girls like Lindsay who’s family puffs them up to end up coming back to the projects and being ruined like the other crash test dummies, that’s why I left ASAP and never looked back.

  • kevin

    I think she’s foolish for even thinking about wearing that uniform to a high school graduation. It has no business being worn like that, especially by a “boot!” Other than making it through boot camp, she has accomplished nothing in the Corps to merit her showing off the uniform. I guess she wants to impress some people, but it would turn off a lot of people, too. She’s a rookie with a newly acquired high school diploma, big deal! Now, she should report to camp and get a head start on filing all that paperwork in the Personnel Dept., of the Corps, that’s where she’ll do her time.


    well done!!!
    I chatted on the phone with the smg. about this who a sured me that her choose to wear her uniform was now in her hands and that they would back her . Just wish we could of honored the class with a flag line.
    stand tall in your uniform ! BIG BILL UTAH/PGR

  • NAgrad

    I think it’s important that it be noted that the young lady at the center of this story never talked to the school officials about the uniform issue until after the school principal called her after the media frenzy erupted. All students were told that they were required to wear their caps and gowns with dress attire beneath. Had she brought this up to school officials before coming to KDKA, she could have saved NA from being unjustly criticized by the media a’s “unpatriotic.” NA has always shown great respect for the Armed Forces and has a long standing tradition of honoring those entering/serving in the military at every graduation. It is a shame that the entire North Allegheny School District’s character was tarnished and that the Class of 2011 was disrespect for such a unnecessary attempt to gain attention

  • johnny69

    This story is boring. We need more welfare collectin brothas to start shootin’ up the pools again

  • chance

    There’s a difference betwen the term patriot and hero. She’s a patriot, not a hero, at this time.

  • Huh

    Is there any other radio host more disingenuous then Marty Griffin. He talks over and interrupts his callers way too many times and butts in when someone is trying to make a point. The blame for this fiasco falls on him. He is the Geraldo of Pittsburgh Radio.

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