DALLAS, N.C. - After a Gaston County boy said he was bullied for wearing his brother’s Navy uniform to school, there was an immediate response.
It was the day after September 11, 2017. 11-year-old Isaiah Picklesimer was missing his brother, Aaron.
“I love him and I support him,” he said. “My brother is a hero to me.”
So Isiah wanted to wear his Navy uniform to school. “I miss my brother and I wanted to wear that to support,” he explained.
But middle school can be tough for a kid who stands out.
“Some kids bullied me and really hurt my feelings,” Isaiah said. “They said that my uniform was pajamas. That I was a joke. I said you don't understand, I'm trying to support my brother.”
His mother Mellanie posted about the bullying on Facebook, and the response was swift and massive. From the Naval Center in Charlotte, to Washington D.C., to countries around the world.
“No parent wants their child to be bullied for doing something that they believe in, for something that’s close to their heart,” she said.
Enter neighbor Nate Mills, a seventh-grader who decided he would wear his uniform, too.
“I didn't like that the way he was bullied,” Mills said. “Middle school is - I don't know - it's hard.”
He rolled up the sleeves of his grandfather’s army uniform, in support of Isaiah.
The photo of them headed to school in their uniforms was an instant hit.
Isaiah even got an invite to a Navy pinning ceremony. “That made me feel awesome,” the fifth-grader beamed.
But not quite as awesome as the night of his middle school dance, a few days later. Brother Aaron got permission to leave base in Virginia and drove seven hours to surprise Isaiah at school.
“He said I’ve got you, I’m here now,” Isaiah recalled.
As it turns out, it’s not the uniform, but the heart of the person who wears it, that really makes a hero.
“I’m not going to let my brother down,” Isaiah said.
He now plans on wearing his Navy uniform to school every single Friday this year. School officials at WC Friday Middle School said they support him 100 percent.