An elementary school student got a huge surprise just in time for Veterans Day when her father, an Army private, showed up to surprise her at a Veterans Day school assembly.
As students at Claywell Elementary School in Florida gathered for a Veterans Day assembly, second-grader Carol Pena’s father arrived at school to see her in person for the first time in nearly a year, according to a video of the occasion.
The surprise was revealed when U.S. Army Private Rafael Sanchez walked on stage before the Pledge of Allegiance. It was the first time Sanchez had seen Coral or her younger sister since he left for training.
“Beautiful,” Sanchez told Bay News 9, describing that moment on stage. “Honestly, amazing. Trying to soak it all up.”
“It’s very different going from spending every day with each other to only speaking through technology,” he added.
Jessica Pena, Coral’s mom, said putting together the surprise took a lot of hard work.
“It was the hardest thing ever,” she said. “I hate lying to my kids, but it was so worth it.”
The reunion was especially sweet in that all the students and staff at Claywell got to witness it.
“We get to appreciate the people that get to put their lives on the line for us,” Pena said. “For our freedom, for our kids, for our kids to have freedom, for our kids to be able to do stuff like this. It’s amazing.”
Sanchez will be staying with his family until November 23, after which he leaves for Fort Polk in Louisiana, where he will be stationed for two years.