World War II vet goes viral for taking a knee in solidarity with NFL players

AOL.com editors

As controversy surrounding President Trump's comments on NFL players protesting during the National Anthem embroiled the country this weekend, one 97-year-old veteran spoke out.

The president on Friday said of professional football players taking a knee or showing a symbol of protest -- most in reaction to American police brutality -- during the singing of the National Anthem that he would "love" to see NFL owners "get that son of a b***h off the field." His comment sparked a wave of backlash, including statements from league commissioner Roger Goodell and team owners alike.

"Courageous Patriots have fought and died for our great American Flag --- we MUST honor and respect it! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!" Trump tweeted on Sunday, and one veteran is speaking out -- but not in agreement with the president.

"My grandpa is a 97 year-old WWII vet & Missouri farmer who wanted to join w/ those who #TakeaKnee: 'those kids have every right to protest,'" The tweet from grandson Brennan Gilmore reads.


The veteran is John Middlemas of Willard, MO., and his original taking a knee post has since been retweeted some 123,000 times and liked 324,000 times. 

"I wanted to communicate what I always told to my grand-kids and everybody else," Middlemas said to The Springfield News-Leader on Sunday. "When they'd go to bed at night, we'd tell the kids we wanted to be like Jesus."

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While Middlemas' action was bold, grandson Brennan says it is nothing new to the military man.

"My Grandpa has been an ally to the civil rights movement for many years,” Gilmore said in a follow-up tweet on Sunday. "He’s an amazing man always on the side of justice."