An Oregon 8th grader was suspended from school for wearing a patriotic T-shirt that showed a gun, the Washington Post is reporting.
Alan Holmes, a student at Dexter McCarty Middle School in Gresham, Oregon, says he was inspired to wear his favorite patriotic T-shirt, which depicts a pair of boots, a gun, and a helmet — widely used as a sort of battlefield memorial (called a “Battlefield Cross”) to fallen soldiers in the U.S. military — in honor of his brother.
Alan’s brother, who isn’t named in reports, joined the Marines at 19, and served a tour in Iraq. Alan still remembers the day his brother arrived home safely from the war.
“I was proud of him. I remember the day he came home and I was just so happy. I was little but I still remember it, he made me happy.”
Years later, in part because of his brother’s service, Alan considers himself a patriot and a zealous supporter of the military. And to show his support and patriotism, he wore his favorite shirt to school last Wednesday.
Unfortunately for the Oregon teenager, his school’s principal found the gun on his t-shirt problematic, and gave him an ultimatum: change shirts or get suspended, according to KATU (Portland).
Alan refused to back down.
“The principal, I asked him, ‘is this considered a suspension?’ He said ‘yes I’ll see you tomorrow’ and I left.”
School officials called Alan’s parents to come pick him up.
Alan’s father, Charlie Holmes, says he is proud of his son’s decision to stand up for what he believes is right.
“Yeah, I’m proud of him. I would’ve done the same thing.”
Alan, meanwhile, is saddened by the turn of events.
“I was just upset. I was heartbroken. My brother, he means everything for me. Just being able to help and give back to the people who fought and died for us it just makes me feel good.”
School officials declined to comment specifically on Alan’s suspension, citing student confidentiality policies. An unidentified school official did say, however, that t-shirts depicting guns are inappropriate in a school setting. Further, a KATU reporter dug through the school’s student handbook and found that the school’s dress code does indeed prohibit students from wearing clothing promoting alcohol, drugs, tobacco, or violence.
Alan, however, insists that the gun on his T-shirt isn’t about violence — it’s about fallen servicemen and women.
“This isn’t relating [to] the violence. The barrel is pointing down. It’s total gun safety.”
Still, Alan’s choice of T-shirts comes at a difficult time for schools in Oregon. Earlier this month, nine students were left dead, and seven injured, after a gunman opened fire at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, before turning his gun on himself. The mass shooting once again ignited the debate over gun control in the United States.
In a larger sense, Alan’s t-shirt choice comes at a time when schools across the country adhere to a policy of Zero Tolerance when it comes to guns and other weapons — or even suggestions of guns and weapons — in schools. Students have faced discipline for bringing toy guns to school, for making a gun shape with their fingers and pointing it at classmates, even for chewing a Pop Tart into the shape of a gun.
Similarly, a Texas student was suspended from school earlier this year for wearing a t-shirt to school depicting an American flag — school officials said it violated the school’s dress code, which required students to wear solid-color shirts.
Alan tells KPTV (Portland) that his suspension has motivated him to learn more about the Battlefield Cross memorial in his spare time.
[Image courtesy of: YouTube]