When Alan Holmes heard stories about the struggles enlisted troops in the United States military go through, he knew that he was privileged. His life in Gresham, Oregon was a piece of cake compared to the hardship America’s troops deal with on a daily basis while on a tour of duty. But things changed for Alan when his brother, who joined the Marines when he was just nineteen, got injured while serving the country’s mission in Iraq.
Alan always looked up to his big brother. That’s why it was devastating to watch him get injured while he was on a tour of duty. It inspired Alan to realize how much people were putting on the line to serve their country and to give back. Knowing there were thousands of people like his older brother gave him hope for the future of America. It made Alan feel patriotic and proud to be an American.
He will never forget the day when his brother came home from Iraq safely – injured – but otherwise okay.
“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,” Alan said.
Because he loves to show his pride in the military, Alan uses his creativity to pick out wardrobe options to show his support. He got one t-shirt that showed a soldier’s memorial complete with a rifle, boots, and a helmet. He put on the shirt and went to school at Dexter McCarty Middle School.
He came home– suspended.
It happened like this. The school’s principal saw Alan wearing the pro-military shirt and demanded that he either take the shirt off, put something over it, or get a suspension.
Alan refused to dishonor the troops. He took the suspension instead.
“The principal, I asked him, is this considered a suspension? He said yes I’ll see you tomorrow and I left,” Alan said.
Alan does not understand why the principal dislike his pro-military shirt.
“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,” Alan said.
The school dress code may not explicitly ban pro-military shirts or paraphernalia, but it does ban outfits that promote violence as well as alcohol, drugs, and tobacco. Alan sees how his shirt could have been seen as promoting violence – but he still thinks the principal’s punishment was over the top.
Although there was a school shooting nearby – and his shirt included the image of a gun on it – Alan believes the image is not violent. However, he also respects the victims in the school shooting and is willing to change his pro-military shirt for one that does not include the image of a gun. That would be fine by the principal.
The school did not comment, saying only that images of weapons on shirts is not allowed in the school setting. The school district did not say this was about the military, only the image of a gun on the shirt.