An Iraq War veteran was allegedly denied entrance to Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey because of his shirt that he claims supports Marines.
Mario Alejandro says he received a shirt as a gift from his children that reads, “Keep Calm and Return Fire” and features a drawing of an M-26 assault rifle colored in the stars and stripes. Alejandro was reportedly wearing the shirt when he tried to enter the popular theme park, but when park workers saw his shirt, they told him he couldn’t come in.
“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. “I said that 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 that off… or you need to buy another shirt to put over it.’”
The stubborn security guard called in his supervisor who, to Alejandro’s surprise, agreed with the decision to block his entrance to the park, which ultimately forced him to leave and upsetted his young son.
"My wife and my son were crying, because they didn't understand why this was happening," he said. "I just told my son to remember this day. To remember how they treat veterans."
Alejandro says his children got the shirt, along with other similarly themed shirts, for him as a gift from Marine Reconnaissance Foundation, which raises money for Marines and their families.
“I thought it was great, I loved it. The shirts fit my personality perfectly. They’re military and they’re patriotic. That’s my thing,” Alejandro said. “I wore them to all over the place, to my kids’ baseball games – everywhere. And I got nothing but compliments about how great they were. No one ever said they were offensive, because it’s obvious that they’re in support of the military and the United States.”
A spokeswoman for Six Flags Great Adventure told NJ.com in a statement that they were reviewing the incident.
"Our goal is to maintain a fun, safe and family-friendly environment. Our dress code does not permit clothing with vulgar, offensive or violent language or images," wrote Kristin B. Siebeneicher in the emailed statement. "If a guest is wearing such attire, we ask them to remove and replace it with another item of clothing; and if they do not have one, they are able to purchase a replacement item at a gift shop."
Meanwhile, since the story made news, the Marine Reconnaissance Foundation has decided to make another run of the limited edition shirt that got Alejandro blocked from the park.