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The Patriotic Story Behind Viral Photo of Groundskeeper Standing Outside a Texas Middle School


"Goosebump moment."

Clayton Allen, Jr. (Image source: Facebook)

It's a regular activity every school morning at Smith Middle School in Cypress, Texas, as it is in classrooms all across America: Reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

But 7th-grade teacher Samantha Nuber saw something unusual outside Smith during the U.S. pledge, the Texas pledge, and the moment silence on a recent morning. So Nuber got the attention of her partner teacher Garrett Hartman and had him take a look, too.

Hartman was so moved by what he saw that he had to take a photograph — and since it was first posted on Facebook, the image has touched a viral nerve.

Clayton Allen, Jr. (Image source: Facebook) Clayton Allen, Jr. (Image source: Facebook)

The man seen standing on the grass is Clayton Allen, Jr., a 21-year-old graduate and now groundskeeper for the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District in the Houston area, of which Smith Middle School is a member.

When Allen heard the pledges and the moment of silence on the morning the photo was taken, he dropped his equipment and joined the teachers and students.

"It was phenomenal," Hartman told KPRC-TV in Houston. "It was an instant impact kind of thing. Goosebump moment."

After taking the photograph, Hartman said he and Nuber went outside to meet Allen.

"It made me feel like Superman to be honest with you," Allen told KPRC of his chat with the teachers. "It made me feel good on the inside."

Allen said he recited the Pledge of Allegiance because he feels "blessed every day."

"I'm so thankful for the day and the country that I'm in," he added.

TheBlaze spoke Thursday to Susan Higgins, principal of Smith Middle School, who said there's been a noticeable effect among teachers and students since Allen's patriotic gesture was shared.

Higgins said one of her assistant principals told her that as Higgins recited the pledge over the school's public-address system Thursday morning, a couple of students who were in the hallway stopped walking and put their hands over their hearts and recited the pledge as well.

In addition, Higgins told TheBlaze that Republican State Rep. Dan Branch — who she said sponsored a bill giving students the chance to recite both pledges and have a moment of silence — made a trip to Smith on Thursday and awarded Allen with a certificate and glass-encased American flag.

The buzz over the simple photo reached Fox and Friends Wednesday with host Elizabeth Hasselbeck interviewing Hartman and Allen.

Image source: Fox and Friends Image source: Fox and Friends

“To find out that he was 21," Hartman said of Allen, "that really brought home the moment..."

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