Graduation gifts come in all shapes and sizes. Some celebrated students receive a commemorative ring, a fancy watch, a new laptop, or an espresso maker.
Others might get something even bigger. Proud parents occasionally spring for a car and good friends sometimes splurge on a memorable trip across Europe.
Then there’s Miranda Maggart of Miami, Florida. After Miranda learned that her beloved big brother wouldn’t be able to attend her high school graduation ceremony, it probably seemed that no gift of any kind could compensate.
It’s not that she didn’t understand. Miranda’s brother is Airman First Class Derrek Maggart, and at the time he was stationed in South Korea.
So when Derrek let his little sis know that his flight home wouldn’t arrive until two days after the big event, she was certainly heartbroken. But she was also incredibly proud of him for serving his country so courageously.
What Miranda evidently forgot is that older brothers can sometimes play good-natured tricks on their siblings. And in this case, Derrek Maggart had something pretty awesome in the works.
The graduation ceremony started out normally enough. Honorees filed in wearing their robes, and loved ones assembled to watch.
Then Principal Todd Gentis invited a guest speaker on stage to lead attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance. A color guard marched forward bearing our nation’s flag, and the soldiers stood at rapt attention.
Then, from behind a curtain, a special guest emerged. He walked to the podium, and spoke into the microphone.
“Good evening everybody,” intoned the voice over the school PA system, “would you please join me in the Pledge of Allegiance.”
And as the gentleman proceeded to deliver this cherished American oath of loyalty, Miranda Maggart burst into tears.
The camera panned to her in the second row, where she was failing to contain her sobs. She couldn’t believe who had taken the stage, and was overwhelmed with the reveal.
Hands clasped over her face, she rushed to the stage and threw her arms around the speaker as soon as he was finished. It was her brother Derrek.
Instantly the crowd erupted in applause, and Gentis explained that Derrek had been planning this incredible surprise for weeks. Meanwhile, an overjoyed Miranda just kept right on hugging.
These two are obviously incredibly close, and it was a wonderful surprise for her beloved sibling to make an appearance on Miranda’s very important day.
There are a lot of meaningful and memorable graduation presents. But most of us would absolutely agree that being reunited with family is the greatest gift of all.
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