Friendship between WWII vet and 3-year-old goes viral

FARMINGTON, Minn. – The story of the friendship between a WWII veteran and his 3-year-old neighbor continues to spread by social media, on TV and on the internet.

The story – which first aired on KARE 11 Sunday night – has been shared hundreds of thousands of times, much to the surprise of 89-year-old Erling Kindem and the parents of Emmett Rychner.

"I think people are craving good news," Anika Rychner has concluded. "There is just not a lot of good news in the world."

Based on the comments she's reading on social media, Anika thinks the story's appeal goes even deeper. "I think a lot of people can relate to how much they love their grandparents or somebody special in their life."

RELATED: Watch original story

The story re-aired Monday on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams and was picked up by television stations across the country. Websites as diverse as Huffington Post, The Drudge Report and Perez Hilton have brought Emmett and Erling additional attention.

"They've brought so much joy to us and our family and friends and we're glad they bring so much joy to other people," said Emmett's mother.

Together again Thursday evening, Emmett and Erling were more interested in showing off a large tomato in the garden they tend together in Erling's backyard.

Many on social media have expressed sadness the two might lose touch with each other when both move in the coming weeks – Emmett to a home in the country and Erling to a senior apartment.

"It's very important to Emmett and Erling and to us that they have a chance to see each other in the future as often as possible," said Bryan Rychner.

Erling agreed. "I'll see to that. They don't have to come see me. I'll find out where they moved. I can find guys that can drive me, if I can't drive."

The first invitation has already been extended. Emmett will celebrate his 4th birthday with a party in September and Erling is at the top of the guest list.


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