The National Anthem protests are dividing Americans into two vocal groups. Many feel like American freedoms allow them to protest however they want. Those who serve the country in the military often stand in defense of those freedoms. Yet one World War II vet is going viral after he took a knee.
John Middlemas is a 97-year-old veteran. The image of him kneeling was uploaded to Twitter by his grandson, Brennan Gilmore.
“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,’” Gilmore wrote.
Middlemas gave an interview to The Springfield News-Leader Sunday. The old vet wanted to show his support for their right to protest.
Middlemas, a retired farmer from Willard, Missouri, wants to readers to know “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.”
“We don’t kill people,” he added. “We want to make people live.”
This controversy, once mostly contained to the National Football League, spiraled out of control once President Donald Trump spoke at a rally for Alabama Senator Luther Strange last week. Trump called protesting NFL players “sons of bitches.” After, he argued that team owners should fire protesting players.
And with that, the once isolated anthem protests took on new significance. The protests moved off the football field and onto the MLB diamond. NBA basketball players got in the game, too, with their viral responses. And now 97-year-old vets.
So how far will this issue divide Americans?