Cooper Routon of Arab, Alabama, has gone viral for an unprompted salute to the flag as the national anthem played prior to a local football game. “He just said he knew it was what he was supposed to do!” Cooper’s mom, Roni, told The Epoch Times.
Cooper’s patriotic gesture occurred at an Arab versus Oxford high school football game on Oct. 8 at the family’s home football field. It went unseen by his parents, Roni and Kyle, at the time.
“We weren’t anywhere around him when the national anthem was being played,” Roni, a 29-year-old stay-at-home mom said. “It wasn’t until after the game that the picture was brought to our attention.”
On seeing the heartwarming picture of their son, Roni said: “We were proud parents, to say the least. I would be lying if I said it didn’t bring tears to our eyes.”
Every home game, Roni explained, 14 players carry a flag to honor 13 servicemen who lost their lives in Kabul, plus one flag that was flown in Afghanistan. Her son has been interested in the flags from the very beginning.
The moving photo of Cooper with his hand on his heart at the game was shared on social media and has garnered a huge response from the general public.
“Reading the comments and seeing how it has touched others has been really amazing,” said Roni. “Cooper’s picture is proof that it’s never too early to start teaching children the importance of respecting our flag and country.”
After the 5-year-old won hearts at the home game, Rick Karle of WVTM 13 posted a throwback photo of the boy as a baby on Facebook to show where it all began. In the photo, Cooper as a 3-month-old toddler is dressed in an American flag onesie with a big smile on his face.
“It was the Fourth of July so we chose the outfit with the American flag on it,” his mother explained to The Epoch Times, referring to the picture. “He was laying by himself when we noticed his little hand over his heart, and of course had to capture it.”
“We honestly thought it was hilarious; what a coincidence, right?” Roni marveled, claiming it is “special” to witness her son displaying patriotism of his own free will, as he grows.
She reflected: “We feel that it has been one of the most important lessons we have taught him. Seeing him apply it, without us directing him to do so, really hits home.”
Meanwhile, Roni says that each day on the way to school, the couple reminds Cooper to be kind and respectful.
“Although we have many philosophies on raising Cooper, we feel like these two can easily be applied each day,” Roni added.