Following the president's continued attacks on athletes who have been critical of his administration — namely Colin Kaepernick and Stephen Curry — a movement has amassed in support of those athletes. NFL coaches, owners, and commissioners have rallied behind players and their right to "take a knee" during the national anthem. Although Kaepernick famously began taking a knee to peacefully protest police brutality, many have interpreted it as a sign of disrespect toward veterans and active military members.
In the heart of the debate, a 97-year-old World War II veteran weighed in. In a tweet shared by his grandson Brennan Gilmore, the veteran and farmer is shown taking a knee because "those kids have every right to protest." The tweet quickly received widespread attention and has been retweeted over 100,000 times.
In a reply to the original tweet, Brennan said his grandfather has always been politically involved. "Grandpa has been an ally to the civil rights movement for many years," he said. "He's an amazing man always on the side of justice."
Many veterans, however, do not share this same opinion. When the Pittsburgh Steelers protested by staying in the locker room during the national anthem, offensive tackle and army veteran Alejandro Villanueva stood on the field with his hand over his heart.
In a 2016 interview with ESPN, Villanueva said he supports Kaepernick's cause but not his method. "I will be the first one to hold hands with Colin Kaepernick and do something about the way minorities are being treated in the United States," he said, adding, "You can't do it by looking away from the people that are trying to protect our freedom and our country."