Arlington 12-year-old’s small act of kindness captured for huge impact across the world

Joshua Brown kneels to tie the shoelace of Arlington police officer Jerrick Wilson during the July 4th parade. The photo became a viral sensation around the world.
Joshua Brown kneels to tie the shoelace of Arlington police officer Jerrick Wilson during the July 4th parade. The photo became a viral sensation around the world. Courtesy

Joshua Brown was just helping a fellow human being.

Little did the 12-year-old sixth-grader at Arlington’s Hill Elementary School and Arlington police officer Jerrick Wilson know that a photo of the good deed would go viral. Now, thousands of folks around the world have had their hearts touched as a result.

Josh was attending the July 4th Parade in Arlington when he noticed that Wilson’s shoelace had come untied. Wilson, a part of the Honor Guard carrying the United States flag in the parade, could not bend over to tie it.

So Josh rushed to the rescue. Parade attendee Wendy Smith photographed the iconic scene, a moment that captured not only the hearts of those watching that day, but also many across the nation.

Josh said he was surprised at the national reaction to the photo. “Yes, very surprised. My Mom told me about it,” he said.

The photo has made its way through social media, especially Facebook and Twitter.

Also, Josh was recently honored by the City of Arlington at a city council meeting Aug. 20 for Joshua Brown Kindness Day.

“It was pretty cool. Chief Will Johnson gave me a Chief’s Challenge Coin,” Josh said. “I also received gifts from the New York City Police Department and other police departments across America. It was really cool.”

Also, Hill Elementary has designated each Tuesday for the entire school year as Josh Brown Kindness Day. He is involved in the safety patrol at his school and wants to be a police officer himself when he grows up.

“Joshua has always been a kindhearted and sweet kid. He likes to do things for other people, but he definitely never looks to be the center of attention, so this has been a very big deal for him,” said his mother, Hannah Wiles.

“I’m so proud to be his mom, and this event has really changed his life by allowing him to see how big of an impact one small action can have on the world. He is a great kid, an awesome son, an amazing brother, and we could not be happier.”

Johnson also praised Wilson, an active duty serviceman, and Smith for her well-timed photo.

“The good deed only gets told to those who get to see it. If it wasn’t for Wendy Smith taking that photograph so that we could share that act of kindness with the world, the impact would only have been felt by those at the parade and that segment of the parade at the time,” Johnson said.

“Josh is an amazing son. He is shy but at the same time has a huge heart. He genuinely puts others first,” his dad, Justin Brown, said.

Josh’s grandfather is Dr. Dennis Wiles, pastor of First Baptist Church in Arlington. He said Josh’s act is indicative of what a simple gesture of goodwill from even a child can do to affect many others.

“Joshua’s story has literally been shared across the world. We have heard from people across America and Europe,” Wiles said. “It has been amazing. People have been inspired by his example.

“The policing community is very connected, and we have been touched by the response of police departments. He has been inspired by their kind expressions towards him.

“We have been pleasantly reminded of just how patriotic our nation remains. The outpouring of love and appreciation shown to Joshua from military personnel and patriotic Americans has been tremendous.”

And though it was all by happenstance, Josh said he’s glad he was in the right place at the right time.

“I was really happy that all this happened,” he said. “And I was happy to meet Officer Jerrick Wilson and learn he is in the military. I really like him.”

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