High school football player stops in his tracks to honor national anthem in viral image

A North Carolina high school junior is receiving a lot of attention on social media after he unknowingly was photographed while standing in a parking lot with his hand over his heart as the national anthem played in the distance. However, the student, Jacob Pope, doesn't understand why honoring the anthem has garnered so much attention.

Jacob, a 17-year-old junior at South Davidson High School in Denton, N.C., was on his way to football practice when he heard the anthem being played before the high school girls' softball game on Friday. Instead of continuing on his way to practice, he stopped in his tracks in an empty parking lot to honor the anthem.

The moment was captured by a retired teacher’s assistant, Angie Gallimore, who was attending her grandchildren’s tennis match and softball game at the school.

“I just happened to look over to the parking lot — there was no one else out there, and there he stood,” Gallimore tells Yahoo Lifestyle, adding that Jacob was too far away for her to initially identify. “His helmet was off and his hand was over his heart. I just thought that was amazing.”

Jacob was unaware that anyone was witnessing his act of patriotism.

Gallimore, with Jacob's mother's permission, shared the photo on Facebook.

"So proud of this South Davidson student," Gallimore wrote. "There is still hope for this world."

Gallimore, who is still a substitute teacher at Davidson County Schools, had Jacob as a student when he was in middle school.

“Any time anybody was disrespectful, he would call them out on it,” Gallimore tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “He was an upstanding student.”

When Gallimore realized who the student was, she reached out to Lauren Pope, Jacob’s mother. The photo left Lauren feeling “proud and blessed,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

Almost immediately, the Facebook post received hundreds of shares.

"That boy is being raised right!" one person wrote.

"I'm sure his parents are proud. They raised an awesome son," another shared.

"We will be fine if our future is in the hands of kids with that kind of integrity," one commented.

The comments have left Lauren and her husband, Chad, humbled.

“You always worry and wonder, ‘Are you doing the right thing? Are you raising them right? Are they going to turn out to be good, functioning adults?’” Lauren tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “He did this when no one was looking. He could have just as easily walked home and no one would have known the difference. He did the right thing, regardless of being alone or in a crowded room.”

Stopping to pay his respect as the national anthem plays is something that Jacob always does, Lauren tells Yahoo Lifestyle, and it stems from the pride he has in his grandfather, who served as military police in Vietnam.

“The anthem has a special meaning for Jacob,” Lauren says. “And for the nation.”

Jacob, however, is surprised by all of the attention.

“He is absolutely shell-shocked,” Lauren says. “He’s just like, ‘Mama, I don’t know why it’s such a big deal to do the right thing. I was just doing the right thing. That’s what you’re supposed to do.’”

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