A 97-year-old veteran of World War II expressed solidarity with athletes who kneel during the U.S. national anthem to protest police brutality. The national debate over protesting the anthem has intensified after President Donald Trump asserted that athletes who snub the flag should be fired.
On Sept. 25, Brennan Gilmore, the former chief of staff of former Democratic Rep. Tom Perriello of Virginia, took to social media to share a photograph of his grandfather kneeling in support of NFL players who protest against the national anthem, The Hill reports.
"My grandpa is a 97 year-old WWII vet & Missouri farmer who wanted to join w/ those who [Take a Knee]: 'those kids had every right to protest,'" Gilmore tweeted.
Gilmore added: "Grandpa has been an ally to the civil rights movement for many years. He's an amazing man always on the side of justice."
In August 2016, the San Francisco 49ers' then-quarterback Colin Kaepernick began to kneel during the national anthem at the beginning of football games. Kaepernick, who is currently a free agent, explained that he was protesting police brutality against racial minorities.
"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick told NFL Media. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."
Kaepernick's protest sparked a fierce national debate, with critics asserting that snubbing the anthem was a sign of disrespect for U.S. military service members.
On Sept. 25, Trump reignited the controversy when he blasted NFL players who snubbed the flag during a rally in Huntsville, Alabama.
"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners when somebody disrespects out flag to say: 'Get that son of a b***h off the field right now. Out! He's fired! He's fired!'" Trump said.
On Sept. 24, over 200 NFL players either knelt or remained in their locker rooms during the national anthem. The protest was largely seen as a rebuke of Trump's comment.
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, a prominent Trump supporter, stated that he was "deeply disappointed by the tone of the comments made by the president."
Kraft added that athletes had a "right to peacefully affect social change and raise awareness in a manner that they feel is most impactful."