GRESHAM, Ore. – Dexter McCarty Middle School student Alan Holmes understands that his freedom is intricately tied to those who fought and died defending the United States of America.

His older brother joined the U.S. Marines when he was 19 years old and served a tour in Iraq, Fox 12 reports.

But school officials apparently don’t share Holmes understanding or patriotic spirit, and recently forced the eighth-grader to change his shirt that depicted a traditional soldier memorial or face in-school suspension.

Holmes choose the latter.

“The principal, I asked him, is this considered a suspension? He said yes I’ll see you tomorrow and I left,” Holmes told KATU.

militaryshirt“I was just upset. I was heartbroken,” he added. “My brother, he means everything to me. Just being able to help and give back to the people who fought and died for us it just makes me feel good.”

The school dress code states that students cannot wear anything that promotes alcohol, drugs, tobacco or violence. Holmes’ shirt depicted a military rifle barrel first into the ground, with a helmet on top and boots on the bottom. It reads: “Standing for those who stood for us.”

School officials told Holmes the shirt was inappropriate because it contained a weapon, and asked him to instead wear a school shirt, but Holmes refused.

“They won’t let me wear a shirt to supports the people who keep us free,” he told Fox 12, “I’m not going to support them.”

“I’m proud of him,” Holmes’ father, Charles Holmes, said. “I would have done the same thing.”

School officials would not discuss the issue with the media.

Alan Holmes said he understands why school officials would be concerned about images of weapons in an era of school shootings, but his shirt clearly does not promote violence.

“This isn’t relating to violence. The barrel is pointed down – total gun safety,” he said.

News of Holmes’ suspension enraged a lot of folks online.

“The ‘image’ on this shirt shows (honor to) buried American soldiers, the weapon is used to hold the helmet when buried in the field,” Frank Martin posted to Facebook. “If that is inappropriate … then the school should haul down the American flag in front of it and return all … federal funding it receives.”

“I understand the paranoia going on with school administrators, but this is about as silly as the kid who made a gun out of a pointed finger and got tossed out too,” Pam McFarlin added. “I would like to gather about 500 folks all wearing that t-shirt and surround the school.”

“This kid is a hero. His message was positive and patriotic while showing support for his older brother who is a U.S. Marine defending this country,” Vince Van De Coevering wrote. “If he was my kid he’d get an extra scoop of ice cream tonight.”

“These school administrators have gone soft in the brain. I hope our schools are sill teaching about our precious freedoms and they should understand that the reason we have those precious freedoms is because brave men and women went in harms way when called,” Bob Sutton posted.

“Nothing inappropriate about that shirt. Perhaps we should suspend these soft brained administrators who don’t understand what their country stands for,” he continued. “Signed, a third generation U.S. Army veteran. P.S. Well done young man, always stand for what you know to be right no matter what.”

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