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This 97-Year-Old WW2 Vet Joined NFL Players In Taking A Knee This Weekend And The Photo Is Iconic

"Those kids have every right to protest."

Posted on September 25, 2017, at 12:54 p.m. ET

This is 38-year-old Brennan Gilmore from Charlottesville, Virginia, and his 97-year-old grandpa, John Middlemas.

Brennan Gilmore

Grandpa John is an American hero. His grandson told BuzzFeed News that John served on submarines in the Navy for 21 years, during World War II, the Korean War, and the Cold War.

Brennan Gilmore

After he retired, Grandpa John became a farmer in Missouri.

Gilmore said Grandpa John has "a strong commitment to social justice stemming from his deep Christian faith."

Brennan Gilmore

"He has been a Democrat for many years, but at the end of the day, he thinks that the core values our country is founded on transcend party affiliation," Gilmore said. "Dr. King was one of his heroes, and he said that he had hoped that one day he would see Dr. King become President. He loves Obama."

Over the weekend, Gilmore and his grandpa were discussing President Trump's crusade against NFL players who take a knee during the national anthem in protest of police brutality.

"Members of the military like my grandfather who risked their lives or fought for this country did not do so because of symbols like the flag or the anthem," Gilmore said, "but because of the ideas those symbols represent, like freedom of speech, and equality and justice for all."

He added: "Trump's comments suggested that we should protect symbols at the expense of the values."

Grandpa John felt it was important to speak out about how it's the values of our country, not the symbols, that are important to protect. So, he took a knee in solidarity.

@brennanmgilmore/Twitter / Via Twitter: @brennanmgilmore

His grandson tweeted the photo, writing that Grandpa John said, "Those kids have every right to protest." His tweet has since gone hugely viral, with over 150,000 retweets.

My grandpa is a 97 year-old WWII vet & Missouri farmer who wanted to join w/ those who #TakeaKnee: "those kids have…

@brennanmgilmore / Twitter / Via Twitter: @brennanmgilmore

Many people, including other vets, tweeted their support.

@brennanmgilmore That's America!!! Thank you for sharing. This Gulf War veteran, wants to say thank you to your gra…

@GregCowboys / Twitter / Via Twitter: @GregCowboys

And thanked Grandpa John for his service.

@brennanmgilmore That brought tears to my eyes. Thank you to your grandfather for his service then and now.

@ThisBarbara / Twitter / Via Twitter: @ThisBarbara

"Please thank your grandpa for his service to our country and for standing up for the right of Americans to protest. He's a hero!" said one person.

@brennanmgilmore @noreen_shoop Please thank your grandpa for his service to our country and for standing up for the…

@theterrytaylor / Twitter / Via Twitter: @theterrytaylor

Other people spoke out on behalf of relatives who passed away, saying they would do the same thing as John.

@brennanmgilmore @972_834 My brother who recently passed was WW2 VET, he was 92. If he was here he would agree with…

@catlover1943 / Twitter / Via Twitter: @catlover1943

"My dad was also a WWII vet, and would have been taking a knee today. Your Pop is now everyone's Pop. Give him a hug for me," one person wrote.

@brennanmgilmore My dad was also a WWII vet, and would have been taking a knee today. Your Pop is now everyone's Pop. Give him a hug for me.

@DebbieCulwell / Twitter / Via Twitter: @DebbieCulwell

Gilmore said Grandpa John has enjoyed reading all the replies to his photo.

"He has been very appreciative of the huge outpouring of support from well-wishers," he said. "But he's 97, so it's taken quite a bit of explaining as to what Reddit and Twitter are."

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.