NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – It’s the picture that’s been seen around the world: a soldier standing at attention in the pouring rain while saluting a passing funeral procession.
The photo was taken last week in Kentucky, not far from Fort Knox, but it turns out the man is with the Tennessee Army National Guard.
News 2 spoke with Colonel Jack Usrey on Monday, who told us he always pulls to the side of the road when a funeral is passing.
But on this gloomy day last week, something urged him to get out of the car.
“It just kind of hit me,” Usrey said. “It’s a bad day for the family, ugly weather, I hate that they’re having to bury their family on this day, and it just hit me.”
“I just wanted to let them know that we care, collectively, and hopefully let them know that it’s going to be okay,” the colonel added.
Usrey said it was the first time he has actually got out of his vehicle to stand at attention like this before.
“I wasn’t even really thinking about the rain. You know, in the Army, they say if it ain’t raining, it ain’t training. I’m very used to the rain and inclement weather,” Col. Usrey said.
“But I was just standing there, hoping to make eye contact with some of the drivers. Just wanted them to know that we are recognizing that this is a bad day and that they’re in our thoughts and prayers,” he continued.
Usrey told News 2 he still doesn’t know who he was saluting or any of the family members who were part of the funeral procession.
But this weekend, he did get a chance to meet the woman who took the photo. He says they were both surprised by how viral the picture went.
Col. Usrey grew up in Martin, Tennessee, and joined the Tennessee Army National Guard in 1988. He went through ROTC in college and went into active duty in 1992. He’s been to 29 countries including Afghanistan and Iraq twice each.