A Marine combat veteran was denied admission to a New Jersey amusement park because he was wearing a patriotic Fourth of July shirt with a picture of a military rifle on it.
Mario Alejandro, 33, a veteran of the 2003 Iraq invasion, was stopped by a security guard when he and his family tried to enter Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson Township, N.J., because his black shirt bore a drawing of an M-26 military rifle in red, white and blue, and the slogan, "Keep Calm and Return Fire," NJ.com reports
Alejandro's family bought the shirt for him as a Father's Day present from the Marine Reconnaissance Foundation (MRF), a charitable group that helps families of Marine Recon servicemen. The shirt had the group's logo on the back.
Alejandro, who has three children and is a former football coach at Cardinal McCarrick High School, is a four-year Marine vet who says he is disabled from hearing loss and post-traumatic stress disorder.
"My wife and my sons were crying," he told NJ.com, "because they didn't understand why this was happening. I just told my son to remember this day — to remember how they treat veterans."
The MRF posted on its Facebook
page, "One of our supporters was denied entry to Six Flags Great Adventures for wearing a shirt that supports the MRF. We said the shirt would be limited but we're re-releasing it."
Alejandro said that when he attempted to enter the park, he was halted by a security guard, who told him, "That shirt's offensive."
Alejandro informed the guard that he was a veteran and it was a military shirt, but the guard responded, "'I don't care. You have to take that off or you need to buy another shirt to put over it.'
"They said, 'I don't care. Get out of the park.'"
After telling others waiting for entry what was happening to him, Alejandro and his family left.
Kristin B. Siebeneicher, spokeswoman for Six Flags, told NJ.com, "Our dress code does not permit clothing with vulgar, offensive, or violent languages or images," and insisted that the park supports veterans.
However, when Sgt. Stephen Jackel in March was told he could not go on rides at Six Flags Fiesta Texas because he has prosthetic legs from being wounded in Afghanistan, Fox News reported
that the park refused to give him a refund, offering only comp tickets instead.
"I fought for this country," Alejandro said. "I laid in a hole for 36 hours with no sleep and had friends die for this country so the people here could have the freedom to do things like visit amusement parks.
"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."
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