Whether or not you watch sports, you may have heard about the NFL protest circulating the news. The Associated Press observed over 200 NFL players taking a knee on Sunday. The most controversial part of the incident is that they did it during the Star-Spangled Banner.
This isn’t the first time players protested during a game, but this particular protest was followed by heavy criticism from President Donald Trump. Fans posted videos of themselves burning expensive fan memorabilia and began boycotting future games. It seemed as if the world was against these acts of peaceful protest.
However, one kind soul is getting high praise on social media for kneeling in solidarity with them: 97-year-old World War II veteran John Middlemas.
— Brennan Gilmore (@brennanmgilmore) September 24, 2017
Last weekend, Brennan Gilmore posted a picture of his grandfather, John Middlemas, taking a knee in the backyard while sporting his WWII veterans hat. Gilmore explained that his grandfather wanted to “join with those who #TakeaKnee.” The kneeling practice began as a means to protest unfair police violence against the African-American community. It started in 2016 by quarterback Coli Kaepernick and has continued since then.
Trump was quick on the trigger and criticized their actions by saying, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b*tch off the field right now, out, he’s fired. He’s fired!”
Despite once serving in the war, he did not consider these NFL protests disrespectful. On the contrary, according to News-Leader he once called President Trump “garbage-mouthed.”
“Those kids have every right to protest,” Gilmore wrote in place of Middlemas. “It’s not disrespectful at all. It’s what I learned to live and die for.”
Grandpa is very appreciative of all the positive messages people have sent. Here are a few favorite pics, from the Navy and from the farm. pic.twitter.com/c9dC8gb0b0
— Brennan Gilmore (@brennanmgilmore) September 25, 2017
“I wanted to communicate what I always told my grandkids and everybody else. When they’d go to bed at night, we’d tell the kids we wanted to be like Jesus.” Middlemas told News-Leader. He later added, “I’m trying to say that you have to love everybody. We don’t kill people. We want to make people live.”
Gilmore admitted that he was proud of that his grandfather is a strong Civil Rights advocate. Before this incident, Middlemas also took part in the 2013 Unity March, a Springfield event meant to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Middlemas has, and will be, an extraordinary role-model for his grandchildren and anyone that he’s touched with his kindness.