SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KDKA/AP) – On a day when NFL teams grabbed the nation’s attention by coordinating demonstrations during the national anthem, a 97-year-old World War II veteran went viral with a solitary show of support for the protests.
Brennan Gilmore posted a Twitter picture Sunday morning of his grandfather, John Middlemas, kneeling while wearing a veteran’s cap. Gilmore wrote: “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.'”
— Brennan Gilmore (@brennanmgilmore) September 24, 2017
Middlemas is a farmer from Willard, Missouri. He tells the Springfield News-Leader he wanted to communicate “that you have to love everybody.” He adds: “We don’t kill people. We want to make people live.”
The image has been shared hundreds of thousands of times on Twitter.
On Sunday, all but one of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ players opted to stay in the locker room during the national anthem. Former Army Ranger and current left tackle Alejandro Villanueva stood near the tunnel with his hand over his heart.
Meanwhile, coach Mike Tomlin stood by himself on the sideline.
Defensive end Cameron Heyward discussed the team’s decision in the locker room after the game.
“Everybody’s given their platform. And, you know, there’s a lot of people who look up to us, and we appreciate every single person,” Heyward said. “For one person to call shame on multiple people and say we should lose our jobs because we care, that’s just not right.”
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)