National Guard member prays with 5-year-old during Derby protests

National Guard member prays with 5-year-old during Derby protests
Joey Atchley captured this photo of Kentucky National Guard Specialist Dan Otterman praying with a family on Saturday at Churchill Downs. (Source: Joey Atchley)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A moment caught on camera during Saturday’s Derby Day protests may restore your faith in humanity.

A 5-year-old boy and his family shared the power of prayer with a national guardsman.

“God sent a 5-year old boy to strengthen soldiers, and that’s something you can’t ever replicate,” Kentucky National Guard Specialist Dan Otterson said.

Otterson was taken aback during Derby Day protests by a family that was in the crowd of people. In a picture posted on social media, Otterson is seen kneeling in prayer. On the other side of the fence was the young boy leading the prayer.

A family member was with him; she mentioned he wanted to talk with the soldiers.

“He said, ‘Yeah, I would like to pray for you guys,’” Otterson said. “When I tell you I’ve never in my 35 years of being alive, I’ve never seen someone -- adult, professional, pastor, whatever you want to call it -- I’ve never seen someone pray with such conviction and such true sincerity. It was amazing. We kneeled down immediately. This evangelist comes out of this little boy. He’s like, ‘Dear Jesus, we know you’re a loving God and a benevolent God. I’m calling on you to put a hedge of protection (for) these individuals around these police officers and make sure they’re safe, We know you’re a loving God.’”

“I’m sitting there as a grown adult, almost in tears,” Otterson said.

Otterson said the moment is now the highlight of his military career.

“You could just see the tenseness from everyone that was there,” he said. “So, to see this family in that moment have the individuality, the no crowd mentality, we are here to have unity, to pray to look for strength in the moment. It was just something you can’t put into words. I would do it all over again for that moment.”

Otterson said he’s replayed that moment hundreds of times and has a message for the family and their young boy.

“To that little boy, if you’re out there, you are the man,” Otterson said. “I would love to meet you someday and you have big things ahead of you, buddy.”

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