Boy protects American flag by lying on the ground in viral photo

A photo showing an Idaho schoolboy lying on the ground to ensure that no part of an American flag touched the ground has gained international attention.

Facebook user Amanda Reallan snapped the patriotic picture on Wednesday as she waited for her children at Hayden Meadows Elementary School in Hayden, Idaho.  » RELATED: Veteran's American flag stolen; now a heartbreaking plea to get it back         She noticed two boys taking down the school's flag. They were struggling to fold it, she told USA TODAY, and the flag nearly scraped the the ground.

That's when another boy jumped into action. He laid himself down underneath the flag, allowing the other two to fold it without the flag dragging on the earth.

Reallan took a photo and posted it to social media: "I just watched the most amazing act of Patriotism!" she wrote. "This needs to go viral!"

And since then, it has — the image has been shared thousands of times, and several national and international publications have written about it.

Jack LeBreck, the fifth grader who laid down in the image, spoke to local news reporters this week.

"This is our nation's flag," he told KHQ-TV. "If you let it touch the ground, it means you disrespect your country.

LeBreck credits custodian Mac McCarty for the special moment. McCarty helped select the kids to put up and take down the elementary school's flag.

"What they did yesterday was obviously all them … laying on the ground and all that," McCarty said. "And I'm very proud."

Since Reallan's photo gained widespread attention, she said, some have questioned whether it's authentic.

It most certainly is, she said.

"These boys had no idea I was taking the photo," she said. "They took it upon themselves to protect the flag."

She said she hopes to impart that kind of respect for country to her own children.

» RELATED: 6 ways you might be disrespecting the flag without even knowing it

Contributing: KREM-TV, Spokane, Wash.

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