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Living lesson for elementary school students

Posted at 6:39 PM, Nov 12, 2014
and last updated 2017-08-22 12:22:45-04

A group of fifth graders at Banyan Creek Elementary School learned a lesson that's difficult to describe in a text book.

They expected a group speaker was on the way to talk about veterans of war.

Students were asked to raise their hands if a family member has served in the military. Dozens of hands shot into the air.

One of them, from Amelia Jackson.

"My dad is currently in the military, he's in Korea right now," she said.

The ten-year-old student hadn't seen her dad, Sergeant Anthony Jackson, for a year and a half. He has been serving in the U.S. Army, station in Korea.  While Amelia and her classmates sat in their assembly, Jackson was greeting staff members from the school in the lobby.

"I'm really excited, I really just want to see what she's going to do," he laughed.

The soldier has a knack for surprises. He pulled one on Amelia's mom, Alexandra, earlier in the day. He surprised her at work.

"This whole time he was in Florida, the whole time I was texting him!" she exclaimed.  Sgt. Jackson laughed.

For months, he had planned the coordination with the school's teachers and staff.

Principal and Army veteran William Fay was in on it.

"I think it's very important that the children understand that this didn't just happen and that freedom isn't free and some prices were paid," he explained.

Fay says through the years, many students had family members returning from overseas.  This was the first time it would happen in front of the school.

Fay announced Jackson, and in he walked. Amelia looked up, smiled, and darted to him, screaming "Daddy!"  She leapt into his arms and didn't let go.  She says she was surprised.

While away, she says he missed her tenth birthday at Disney World.  It was a special event and she wished he had been there.

"And I'm just going to tell him that I love him. Because even when you tell somebody on a video screen it's not the same as when you tell them in person," she explained.