Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey has apologized to the veteran they blocked from entering the park because of a U.S. military-themed shirt he was wearing.
The shirt featured a picture of a gun colored in with stars and stripes. The words “Keep Calm and Return Fire” were written on it. The shirt was made by the Marine Reconnaissance Foundation.
Here’s how the veteran, Mario Alejandro, recounted the original incident.
“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,'" Alejandro said. “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 shirt sparked conversations on whether it was, in fact, offensive. NJ.com polled readers on the issue, and found that 66% thought the shirt was inoffensive while 30% took issue with it. 3% were unsure how they felt.
Last week, Six Flags Great Adventure said the incident was under review. They called Alejandro over the weekend and apologized. Here’s what Six Flags Great Adventure spokesperson Kristin B. Siebeneicher said about the apology.
"Six Flags takes great pride in the various ways we honor, celebrate and support our military heroes," Siebeneicher said. "We strive to maintain a family-friendly environment and similar to many other public venues we have a dress code. Unfortunately, at the time our employee did not know Mr. Alejandro's shirt was related to a military charity and we apologize to any military personnel who may have been offended by our mistake."
NJ.com reports that it was Six Flags Great America President John Fitzgerald who called Alejandro. Alejandro appreciated the call and accepted the company’s apology.
"The fact that this guy took the time to call me, to personally explain to me what their policy was and to apologize about the way things happened, it was pretty cool of him," he said.