An 11-year-old boy in North Carolina really looks up to his brother, a sailor in the United States Navy. But on September 12, Isaiah Picklesimer was really missing his big brother, Aaron. That’s because Aaron was away from home and getting ready to deploy with the Navy. “I love him and I support him,” Isaiah told WCNC. “My brother is a hero to me.”
So Isaiah decided to wear his own Navy uniform to school as a sign of support for his brother. That’s when things went wrong.
Instead of getting a positive response at the school, or even just being able to go about his school routine like normal, the other kids at his middle school started to pick on him, bully him, and call him names for wearing the Navy uniform.
“Some kids bullied me and really hurt my feelings,” said Isaiah. “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.”
When his mother found out about it, she was understandably upset and took to Facebook to vent her frustration and hopefully reach some of the parents of the bullies.
Mellanie Picklesimer’s post on Facebook included a picture of Isaiah wearing the Navy uniform and read, “Do you see this kid? He woke up missing his Sailor brother and decided to wear his Navy uniform to school. I encouraged him to do what made his heart feel better, but warned him some kids may have something negative to say. Well I just picked him up and he informed me of all the hateful bullying things that were said to him.”
The post went on to say, “I am livid that my son was mocked all day for supporting his Navy brother. I am angry that he had to be put down for something that made him feel less sad today.” She later told WCNC, “No parent wants their child to be bullied for doing something that they believe in, for something that’s close to their heart.”
That’s when Isaiah’s neighbor, seventh-grader Nate Mills, stepped in to show his support and put an end to the bullying. Nate got his grandfather’s Army uniform and wore it to school alongside Isaiah. That got the attention of the community, the Navy, and people from all around the world who reached out to Isaiah and his family to show their support, as well.
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Isaiah was invited to a Navy pinning ceremony where he got to meet more members of the United States Navy and was given a Navy challenge coin for his actions. “That made me feel awesome,” Isaiah told the local news.
However, things were about to get even better for the 11-year-old who just wanted to show his support for his brother in the military.
Isaiah’s middle school held a dance a few days later, and at the end of the evening was the biggest surprise of all. Waiting just out of sight to surprise him and pick him up from the dance was none other than Aaron Picklesimer, who was given leave from the Navy to make the seven-hour drive from Virginia to go see his patriotic and supportive brother.
According to Isaiah, when Aaron surprised him and picked him up for a brother’s hug, he told his little brother, “I’ve got you. I’m here now.”
Aaron Picklesimer knows all about the strength of brotherhood in the military, but it seems like that comes first and foremost from the bond that he shares with his brother, Isaiah. And to keep showing his support for his Sailor brother, Isaiah plans on wearing the uniform to school every Friday for the rest of the school year — something school officials say they are fully supporting. Isaiah said, “I’m not going to let my brother down.”
Watch the absolutely incredible story in the video below!
Jacob H. is an award-winning journalist and photojournalist who currently resides is West Michigan with his wife. In his spare time, Jacob enjoys writing, photography, mountain climbing, and camping.