A photo of 97-year-old World War II veteran John Middlemas kneeling in support of NFL players protesting racial injustice has generated a massive reaction on social media.
The veteran's grandson, Brennan Gilmore, posted the photo to Twitter Sunday morning, hours before more controversy erupted as NFL players knelt during the National Anthem prior to each of the day's games.
Gilmore described his grandfather as a WWII veteran and farmer from Missouri who is "fiercely proud of his country and his service." Gilmore quoted him as saying of the athletes,"Those kids have every right to protest."
"It's not disrespectful at all," Middlemas later told the Washington Post. "It's what I have learned to live and die for."
The photo has generated a flood of support, which Gilmore said filled him with pride for his grandfather.
“The photo of him kneeling is a nice statement from someone who had moral authority to speak of what veterans fought for,” Gilmore told the Huffington Post.
On Twitter, the photo has been liked more than 430,000 times and retweeted more than 166,000 times.
Gilmore added that Grandpa John had no trouble getting back onto his feet after the photo was taken.