Barefoot 9-year old Kaiden Wade stood in the pouring rain, unwavering in his stance, hand over heart for 30 minutes as the funeral procession of a WWII veteran and local hero passed. The respectful gesture deeply touched the family and friends of the late Jerry O’Keefe.
“It was very touching to see him there,” Martha O’Keefe, Jerry O’Keefe’s widow, said through tears Tuesday morning. “It was so touching to see that young man show such respect for Jerry.”
A family member took Kaiden’s picture as they motorcade made its way past him. He then posted it on social media to share the touching act and also find the boy and thank him. “His face was one of the most moving, inspiring and healing images of the day,” Joe O’Keefe wrote. “Young man, you blessed us all.”
The post went viral being shared more than 1,000 times. And the boy’s identity was quickly revealed. The O’Keefe family invited Kaiden to visit with them so that they thank him for his compassion on a difficult day.
They presented him with a WWII veteran cap, a special coin made in honor of Jerry O’Keefe’s military accomplishments a pocket knife and some books. Inside one of the books Jeffrey O’Keefe had written, “The image of you standing in the rain with hand over heart will forever be etched in our lives.”
Jerry O’Keefe’s widow, Martha O’Keefe, said: “It touched my heart to see him out there. It was just such an honor to see that little boy standing there with his hand over his heart in the rain.”
“I stood still the whole time,” he said. “I didn’t move a muscle, but I probably blinked a little.”
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