John Middlemas, a 97 year old World War 2 veteran has become an internet celebrity and piled further humiliation onto Donald Trump after he defied the President and joined the Take a knee Protest to show solidarity with NFL athletes.
Mr Middlemas protest gathered steam and went viral online after his grandson Brennan Gilmore posted a Twitter picture Sunday morning of his grandfather 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.”
The image has been shared hundreds of thousands of times on Twitter.
The picture was posted at 9.30am ET on Sunday, just hours before a number NFL games were scheduled to kick off.
The gesture is meant to protest police violence against black communities and was started by quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016, then playing for the San Francisco 49ers.
The protest has landed Kaepernick at the center of controversy for over the past year, who is currently without a team.
In an interview with The Springfield News-Leader Sunday, Middlemas said that he wanted to show his solidarity with the players as an expression of acceptance.
Middlemas, a farmer from Willard, Missouri, told the publication ‘that you have to love everybody.’
‘I wanted to communicate what I always told to my grand-kids and everybody else,’ Middlemas said. ‘When they’d go to bed at night, we’d tell the kids we wanted to be like Jesus.’
The veteran’s message that “the NFL players have every right to protest” resonated with thousands on social media.
The Take a Knee Protest has a left a sour taste in Trump’s mouth after his bizarre intervention in a speech at one of his rallies where he ordered that any athletes peacefully protesting at NFL games should be fired and lose their contracts immediately.
“The sons of bitches should be fired and asked to leave,” Trump said in typical vulgar language as his supporters cheered.
He also ordered his supporters to boycott all NFL games but his intervention into the protest has made the protest even stronger and made it gather steam. Football club owners have now also joined the #Takeaknee protest with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and his entire team taking the knee.