A shirt purchased for Marine veteran Mario Alejandro was deemed offensive and inappropriate by a Six Flags amusement park. The t-shirt’s message read “Keep Calm and Return Fire”, with a star-spangled M-16 rifle in the background.
According to Fox News, the 33-year-old vet, said at first he thought it was a joke.
“I was walking in through the gate with my wife and kids, who were in front of me, when a security guard grabbed me and said, ‘I can’t let you into the park with that shirt on. That shirt’s offensive,’” said Alejandro.
He refused to remove the shirt, which was a Father’s Day gift from his children. They bought it for him from the Marine Reconnaissance Foundation that supports Recon Marines and their families.
“I said it’s not offensive, it’s a military shirt. I told him that I am an Iraq veteran. I served in the war. But he said, ‘I don’t care, you have to take it off or you need to buy another shirt to put over it.’”
The NY Daily News reported that Alejandro refused to give in and asked for the guard’s supervisor. To his shock, the supervisor agreed with the initial judgment call.
He said he was told if he didn’t change his shirt he would not be allowed in the park. With this statement, his wife and son began crying.
Spokeswoman Kristin Siebeneicher told Fox News via email, “We do not allow guests to wear t-shirts with images of machine guns in our parks. We apologize for any inconvenience we caused this guest, however we stand by our policy, which does not permit clothing with vulgar, offensive or violent language or images. Our goal is to maintain a fun, safe and family-friendly environment.”
Alejandro said no veteran should ever receive the same treatment he did. “I fought for this country,” he said, stating he served four years as a member of the Marine infantry and was part of the 2003 invasion into Iraq. “I laid in a hole for 36 hours with no sleep, and had friends die for this country and so the people here could have freedom to (do) things like visit amusement parks. So when they told me that I couldn’t come in there with my family because of my shirt, a patriotic shirt, it hurt a lot. No other veteran should ever have to experience that.”
According to the NY Daily News, the Marine Reconnaissance Foundation agrees with him.
“One of our supporters was denied entry to Six Flags Great Adventure for wearing a shirt that supports the MRF”, the organization wrote on its Facebook page. “We said the shirt would be limited, but we’re re-releasing it. Stand by for the link.”