The internet is full of heartwarming videos of military men and women surprising their relatives at home or school. Families who have members in the armed forces know that their loved ones might not be there for special moments in their lives. Plenty of military parents miss key moments in their children’s lives. Military children miss special moments, too.
But these sons were determined not to miss their mother’s special moment. When Jennifer Ann Little graduated from college, she understood her adult sons wouldn’t be there to share it with her.
Graduating from college is a huge achievement in itself.
But for Little, the day was even more unforgettable. As she walked up to receive her degree, she saw her two sons, who were on active military duty, stood beside the dean to congratulate her.
One of Little’s sons is in the Army, the other is in the Air Force. When their mother spotted them, she stopped suddenly and then seemed to go limp from shock for a moment.
The proud mother still had tears in her eyes as she hugged her sons and then took a few photos with her college administrators with her degree — and her boys.
Little’s sons had both been able to get leave to support their mother on her big day. Together, they coordinated the surprise that left her breathless in what she now calls the third best day of her life.
Back in June 2018, another soldier also made a surprise visit at graduation — his daughter’s. Capt. Michael Collins was deployed in Iraq when his daughter Tyrae was scheduled to graduate from high school. She was prepared to celebrate that achievement without her father by her side. Instead, she got a huge surprise.
During the El Paso, Texas, high school’s graduation practice, Tyrae was shocked to hear her father’s name spoken without warning.
“I heard my principal giving a speech, and then I heard my dad’s name announced,” Tyrae said. “I’m really excited. I didn’t expect him to be here at all. When I saw him, I was overwhelmed. It was the best graduation gift I could receive.”
She hadn’t seen her father in many months. Collins has been serving in the military for 15 years. He’s been deployed in Iraq and was expected to be there for a minimum of nine months.
Tyrae and her brother and sister rushed across the gym to hug their father.
“It’s pretty important, what we’re doing in Iraq, so they had to weigh that,” Collins said. “Finally, they decided that they could let us go for a week or so to come. I’m so proud of you, baby. I knew you’d do it, and you’re going to go on and become even more and do bigger and brighter things. I love you so much, baby.”
Collins said surprises aren’t his strong suit when it comes to his six children.
So, it was a wonderful experience to be able to show up for Tyrae at a time when she wasn’t expecting him.
“I didn’t really know where she was in the gym,” Collins said. “I was trying to locate her and once I did, I saw the look on her face and she was surprised. I think I always surprise them, and I don’t really, but I think I got them this time. This young lady has worked so hard her entire life. Being a military kid, it was kind of tough. We moved around a lot, and she didn’t get to stay in the same spot for long.”
Tyrae has gone above and beyond in her academic life.
She was a cheerleader throughout high school and also took part in the Libertas Academy and Student Council. For both father and daughter, it was an occasion of immense pride. Collins was thrilled that he was able to be there for such a huge moment.
Although Tyrae said she knew that her father would miss other big moments, such as her leaving home to start college, she was extremely happy that he could be there for the biggest one.
One thing is certain: Active military members make huge sacrifices when they deploy.
They know that their service means they probably will miss a lot of important events in the lives of their loved ones. Thankfully, they sometimes get the chance to surprise their families with the best gift of all: their presence. For Little and Tyrae, their graduation day meant even more because of the people who were there.
The honor of receiving her degree already made the day special. But the people on the graduation stage stopped her in her tracks.
Posted by Humankind on Tuesday, December 11, 2018
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