There’s nothing quite like melting into the arms of your loved ones after a long time apart, especially when that time apart has been full of lonely, grueling work that only makes the absence of family that much more noticeable.
We’re probably so drawn to watching reunions for that reason: We’ve all experienced them on some level, but when they’re because someone was in the military, we tend to associate their absence with sacrifice and service, and the meeting is even sweeter.
Parents get hugged, girlfriends get proposed to and children are met for the first time by parents who have chosen to put their personal lives aside — for a time — to serve in the way they feel is best.
Staff Sgt. Jason Reyes is an aircraft mechanic in the Air Force. He’s been in Dubai for some time, but last week he made it back to his family in Baldwin, New York.
He wanted to surprise his oldest daughter, and his daughter’s school worked with him to set up the perfect homecoming.
The children at Plaza Elementary School all gathered for a Veteran’s Day lesson where Reyes’s daughter, Brooke, took to the stage to say a few words about her dad.
“My dad is a veteran that he does so hard and that I miss him a lot and that he helps our country,” she said in typical adorable 6-year-old fashion, according to ABC 7.
“I don’t know if your dad’s in Dubai,” the principal challenged. “You think he’s really there?”
The video shows her looking off-camera, gasping, and running to her dad, who’s standing off to the side. He kneels down and catches her in a big bear hug as everyone breaks into applause.
“I was thinking he was a prize to me because he is my hero,” she told WENY.
The camera catches a few big tears from Brooke as she realizes that her dad is home, but then it’s her dad’s turn to get emotional as he holds his 2-month-old daughter Bianca for the first time.
He was able to watch Bianca’s birth through FaceTime, which was better than not participating at all, but being able to hold his child was overwhelmingly wonderful.
“I held her, and I just started crying,” he said. “My words, my emotions, everything — everything was just gone. I was just crying.”
“Words can’t express,” he added, according to WENY. “I got home today, I cried…got to see my big girl today.”
He’ll have at least two years at home, and it’s likely he won’t take that time for granted. As for Brooke, she’s planning on lots of piggy-back rides.
“(It was a) good time away, can’t complain, but time to be home, be a dad again, be part of the family and everything,” Reyes said.
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