A U.S. Army soldier surprised his young daughter on her school trip Friday, after returning from an overseas deployment, in an emotional reunion captured on video.
Eight-year-old Harlem Scott received a gift better than anything that could fit under a Christmas tree when she ran into the arms of Army Spc. Ralea Scott inside the Lafon Arts Center in Luling, Louisiana last week.
The second grader was “randomly” chosen to invite a special guest on stage, only to realize that the esteemed visitor was her own mother who had just returned from a nine-month deployment to the Middle East.
“Mom!” she exclaimed the moment she saw Ralea, who was still wearing her military fatigues with a teddy bear in tow, according to the footage.
As the two men hugged and cried, the entire auditorium filled with Harlem classmates in St. Charles Public Schools erupted in raucous cheers.
“I couldn’t stop crying,” Lisa Perrin, principal of Germans Elementary School, told Nola.com. “It was so gratifying to know that she probably got the one thing in the world that she had been praying for for the holidays.”
Ralea, who joined the military directly after graduating from high school in 2013, worked as a mechanic in Jordan and Kuwait, the newspaper reported.
Typically, she is only away from home for three weeks at a time, not nine months.
“At first she was sad,” Ralea, 28, said of her daughter. “She kept wondering when I would come home.”
While the two stayed in touch via Facetime calls and texts, Ralea knew she wanted to surprise Harlem once she knew his return date.
This heartwarming moment was to take place before a Lightwire Theater performance.
Ralea’s mother, Dawn Scott, who was caring for her granddaughter during the deployment, was also surprised when she saw Ralea back in town.
School officials called Dawn to come to the arts center, saying her granddaughter was not feeling well. But when she arrived, she saw her daughter and granddaughter wearing big smiles.
As Dawn wiped away tears, she hugged Ralea warmly, Nola.com reported. And then Harlem also joined in this emotional embrace.