6-year-old stopping to salute Sailors in airport goes viral

These days it seems like members of the military don’t get the respect they deserve for being willing to put their lives on the line to protect our nation.

In particular, younger generations may not appreciate the sacrifices made by those who serve in the armed forces.

So it was refreshing to see a photo of 6-year-old Jace Vega saluting a column of sailors at the San Antonio airport on their way to their next assignment.

The photo was completely spontaneous, according to Jace’s father, Joe Vega.

Joe works in The Woodlands and was returning to his home in New Braunfels from Colorado Springs on Sunday.

Jace was with his mother, Priscilla Pinales-Vega, at the San Antonio airport, trying to surprise Joe.

“They tried to sneak up on me and take a picture of me coming down the elevator,” Vega told Chron.com.

While they were waiting, Jace’s mother turned around to see her son saluting the sailors.

The proud mom quickly snapped a photo and posted it to her Facebook page. “To know WE are teaching our children that the least they can do is show respect to the brave young men and women that serve our great nation,” read her post.

Priscilla showed the photo to her husband, who at first noticed that the boy was saluting with his left hand. Still, he was touched by his son’s show of patriotism.

“When I asked him why he did it, he said, ‘They fight for our country and protect us,'” said Vega.

The photo soon went viral. Vega said veterans have reached out to thank Jace. And an airport in Florida even wants to display his photo in its lobby.

Jace is in first grade, but he already says he wants to grow up to be an Army captain. For now, he’s still focused on football and video games. His dad tries to keep him grounded by teaching him the difference between on-screen heroes and those who actually fight for us.

“If it wasn’t for the young men and women who are willing to sacrifice their lives so we can live free,” said Vega. “Those are the real heroes.”

Danny Hermosillo is the Digital News Editor for Chron.com — Read him on our breaking news site, Chron.com, and our subscriber site, HoustonChronicle.com — Follow him on Twitter at @Dannyherm1| Email him at Danny.Hermosillo@chron.com — Text CHRON to 77453 to receive breaking news alerts by text message

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