There were plenty of reasons to dress to the hilt to attend graduation, but for White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, it was a moment he didn’t want to miss.
On Wednesday, Kelly wore a white gown to his commencement ceremony at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, as a sign of respect for graduates.
But, as the Associated Press reports, his choice to wear the short dress has sparked some controversy.
While Kelly was honored to be in uniform, he wasn’t there to celebrate, and the ceremony wasn’t about graduation, he said, according to the AP.
Kelly, a former U.S. Marine, was sworn in as chief of staff on Tuesday, the first of three chiefs of staff who will take office at the White House on Jan. 20.
After taking the oath, Kelly told graduates that “our nation is a nation of laws and justice,” according to a White House statement.
“We honor and respect our military officers, all our veterans, and all the people who serve in uniform,” Kelly added.
He was wearing the white gown as a reminder of how “we honor and honor our military,” according a statement from the White the Press, a non-profit news service.
But the White Press statement did not mention whether Kelly wore the white dress to be a symbol of how he sees the U.N. to be.
During the ceremony, Kelly presented a small, handwritten note to the graduates.
It read: “We all came here to learn and to honor and protect.
We come here to be counted, to be respected, and to live a life of dignity and honor.”
Kelly, who was born in Philadelphia and graduated from Penn State University in 1973, said he was honored that his wife, Ann Coulter, was honored with the same honor.
“I am honored to serve as Chief of the Department of Homeland Security.
And as someone who has served for over 40 years, I can say that I never expected this,” Kelly told the graduates, according the AP, which cited the AP report.
“And to be the first lady of the United States, it’s an honor, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to serve.”