During President Donald Trump's speech at a rally in Huntsville, Ala. on Sept. 22, 2017, he called out NFL players who sit during the national anthem. Teresa Kaepernick, Colin Kaepernick's mom, commented on Trump's remarks via Twitter. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell also responded to Trump through a statement calling the president's comments "divisive." Alexa Ard / McClatchy
During President Donald Trump's speech at a rally in Huntsville, Ala. on Sept. 22, 2017, he called out NFL players who sit during the national anthem. Teresa Kaepernick, Colin Kaepernick's mom, commented on Trump's remarks via Twitter. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell also responded to Trump through a statement calling the president's comments "divisive." Alexa Ard / McClatchy

National

This 97-year-old WWII vet took a knee in support of protesting NFL players

By Joe Robertson

jrobertson@kcstar.com

September 24, 2017 04:19 PM

UPDATED September 25, 2017 04:38 PM

A 97-year-old World War II veteran from Missouri took a knee Sunday morning in support of NFL football players’ protests, and his grandson’s photo of it took Twitter by storm.

“My grandpa is a 97 year-old WWII vet & Missouri farmer who wanted to join w/ those who #TakeaKnee,” Brennan Gilmore tweeted about John Middlemas.

Then, quoting his grandfather, Gilmore added: “Those kids have every right to protest.”

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." pic.twitter.com/LurCj7SLUB

— Brennan Gilmore (@brennanmgilmore) September 24, 2017

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Middlemas of Willard, Mo., took his knee around 9:30 a.m. Sunday, an hour and a half before legions of NFL players, coaches and owners would be reacting to President Donald Trump’s criticism of player protests during the national anthem.

Trump urged owners to fire or suspend players who kneel during the national anthem, and he encouraged fans to boycott the games.

More NFL players sit, take a knee following Trump criticism

During President Donald Trump's speech at a rally in Huntsville, Ala. on Sept. 22, 2017, he said any player that sits during the national anthem is a "son of a bitch." The president also rescinded NBA champ Stephen Curry's invitation to the White House. Trump's comments ultimately led to more protests by NFL players, coaches and owners during the national anthem on Sept. 24, 2017.

Alexa Ard / McClatchy

By mid-afternoon Sunday, Gilmore’s tweet of his grandfather’s solidarity demonstration had been retweeted more than 48,000 times, had drawn some 116,000 likes, and generated some 2,000 replies.

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

Grandpa has been an ally to the civil rights movement for many years. He's an amazing man always on the side of justice.

— Brennan Gilmore (@brennanmgilmore) September 24, 2017

Willard is about 10 miles northwest of Springfield in southwestern Missouri.

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

Many Twitter responders praised Middlemas for his military service. Some, such as Josh Johnson, simply posted an image of a crowd applauding.

pic.twitter.com/SS9tWl9Z7u

— Josh Johnson (@JoshtheSandwich) September 24, 2017