She Was In Tears

She Was In Tears

Independence School District / YouTube

Everyone was staring at her while she just stood there. That’s when she knew that this whole event was created to trick her. As she kept on reading, her voice cracked, and tears started to drop across her face. She wasn’t sure if she could keep going any longer, and then she noticed the door had opened. That’s when someone walked into the room. She smiled as soon as she recognized him.

Celebrating Veterans Day

Celebrating Veterans Day

Independence School District

The set up began a few weeks before, when Bingham Middle School was planning a Veterans Day Celebration. The holiday pays tributes to everyone serving in the United States Armed Forces. This year, Haley Webb’s school planned several performances and speeches for an upcoming assembly. The Bingham band, which Haley is a part of, was scheduled to perform. This put a smile on her face, and there was one person she wanted to share the news with.

Dad’s In The Army

Dad’s In The Army

Independence School District / YouTube

Sgt. First Class Jason Webb has been a part of the United States Army for a long time. He’s also Haley’s dad. As part of the military, he gets deployed all over the globe. This meant that his family has had to deal with his frequent absence. He was serving overseas when Haley was born. He spent six years in Iraq too. Now, he was serving in Seoul, South Korea. He had been there for a year and a half, and there wasn’t a day that went by that Haley didn’t miss her dad.

She Wanted Her Daddy Back

She Wanted Her Daddy Back

Independence School District / YouTube

The last time Haley spoke to her dad through Skype, she told him all about her upcoming performance for Veterans Day. Sgt. Webb was so proud too. Then she asked him, if he could request a temporary leave, so he could watch her at the assembly. But she realized this probably wouldn’t happen, and she was correct. Her dad told her he couldn’t, but she was used to that. And this didn’t stop her from carrying on and getting ready for the assembly.

The Special Request

The Special Request

BrettPlayter / Twitter

While practicing with her band a few days earlier, Brett Playter, the school’s principal, had a little talk with Haley. He had a special assignment for her. He wanted her to introduce a guest during the closing of the assembly. The guest was in the military, and this person would seal the festivities by playing “Taps." Haley was touched by the principal’s request, and she immediately accepted. But she had no idea what awaited her.

Nervous But Happy

Nervous But Happy

Independence School District / YouTube

Haley was terrified on the day of the assembly. She had a fear of performing in front of a live audience. But she was also happy to show everyone her skills. She wanted to do great for her dad, even though he couldn’t come. But her mom and the rest of her family were there. The ceremony went well, especially Haley’s band. Once the final song was performed, Haley sighed with relief, but then she remembered she had one more thing she needed to do.

Time To Step Up

Time To Step Up

Independence School District/ YouTube

Mr. Playter went up and took the microphone. This was Haley’s cue to get up and approach him. Then he gave her a piece of paper. This was the script that she had to use to introduce the special guest at the ceremony. She didn’t get a chance to take a look at it before the ceremony, but from what she could tell, the speech was kind of short. So, she stood there on stage looking at everyone in attendance. Then she prepared to give her speech.

This Was Weird

This Was Weird

Independence School District/ YouTube

Haley had the sheet of paper in one hand, and the microphone in the other. Then she began her speech. “Our special guest has served with the United States Army for fifteen years,” she said. Her voice was calm, until she noticed something weird. The text mentioned that the guest was a “Sgt. First Class,” just like her dad was. Suddenly, it all dawned on her.

She Was Stunned

She Was Stunned

Independence School District/ YouTube

It didn’t take long for Haley to put two and two together. The guest she was describing was her dad. But it didn’t make sense. He told her he didn’t have enough leave time accrued. Was this merely a coincidence? She tried keeping her emotions in check as she read, but her feelings were too strong. Her voice began to break, and tears started rolling down her face. Then she noticed that the door on the other side of the gym had opened.

Could It Be?

Could It Be?

Independence School District/ YouTube

Haley noticed a man in uniform walking towards her. It was her dad! As he approached the stage, she lost control of her tears. Then she covered her face with her hands so no one would see that she was crying. Meanwhile, the crowd clapped while Sgt. Webb walked up to give his daughter a hug. Haley put her arms around her dad and started balling her eyes out. It was one of the most emotional moments she had ever experienced.

She Was Speechless

She Was Speechless

Independence School District/ YouTube

Sgt. Webb asked Haley, “Are you surprised?” But Haley couldn’t say a word because she was so overwhelmed. She hugged her dad tightly as she cried in his arms. They kept hugging for a couple of minutes. Then, Sgt. Webb grabbed the microphone and made a quick speech to everyone in attendance. He discussed how difficult serving in the military was for both the soldiers and their families. Then, he talked about how this surprise happened.

Planning The Surprise

Planning The Surprise

Independence School District/ YouTube

Sgt. Webb had already been granted leave when he spoke with his daughter Haley a few weeks before the assembly. But he decided not to tell her about it. And when he noticed how happy Haley was to attend the Veterans Day assembly, and how badly she wanted him to come, he knew this would be an amazing way to surprise her. He just had to make it happen.

He Needed Help

He Needed Help

BrettPlayter / Twitter

Sgt. Webb shared his plan with the rest of the family, and then reached out to the school for help. Mr. Playter felt that this would make the Veterans Day celebration extra special, but he needed to come up with a way to surprise Haley. “I’d seen reunions on television where a young boy or girl is throwing a pitch at a baseball game and the catcher is their father,” he explained, “but we couldn’t have Sgt. Webb come into our assembly wearing a mask, so I came up with another idea.”

She Couldn’t Believe It

She Couldn’t Believe It

Independence School District / YouTube

Mr. Playter’s plan worked! “Halfway through I kind of thought that it was him,” Haley said. “I kept reading and I looked up and he’s walking into the gymnasium. I couldn’t believe it. This is better than Christmas!” Plus, she had an entire week to spend with her dad, which was like icing on the cake.

A Week To Bond

A Week To Bond

Independence School District / YouTube

Sgt. Webb had a week of Leave, and he wanted to make the best of it. “And we’re going to spend all that time together,” he shared. They deserved it too for all that they’d given up. “Haley’s gone through tons of sacrifices,” he said. “About the first six years of her life, I was pretty much deployed to Iraq. Now, a year and a half of not seeing my daughter growing up.”

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