John Middlemas

At about the same time that many NFL players took a knee Sunday during the national anthem, a 97-year-old World War II veteran did the same to support them.

His grandson tweeted a photo, and John Middlemas of Willard, Missouri, quickly became a viral sensation. The photo caption read: 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."

In 24 hours, the post received more than 125,000 retweets and 350,000 likes.

"I wanted to communicate what I always told to my grand-kids and everybody else," Middlemas told the Springfield News-Leader. "When they'd go to bed at night, we'd tell the kids we wanted to be like Jesus."

The NFL players were responding to Donald Trump's call for owners to fire or suspend those who kneel during the anthem.