A military career is challenging. It requires service men and women to be away from their families for long stretches of time. But it is also gratifying. The men and women in the United States military provide a selfless service that helps protect our country and democracy. While it is a demanding career, the family and loved ones of these brave heroes are incredibly proud of their warriors. And one National Guardsman who was away from his family for 11 months finally got the chance to meet his baby for the first time.
He did so in a heartwarming and unexpected family reunion with all four of his young children at their school. And as you’ll see in the video, they couldn’t be happier to see their dad back home safe and sound from his military duty.
Because he wanted his homecoming to be a splash, Army Specialist Seth Howard arrived at the Gahanna Christian Academy in Ohio last week to surprise his four kids. But the day was also special because it marked Howard’s 27th birthday.
Except for his six-month-old infant Declan, Howard’s other three children, 3-year-old twins, and his 2-year-old son, attend the school.
It was an extremely heartwarming moment for this dedicated serviceman to meet the newest addition to his family and reconnect with his beloved children. And of course, he was beyond eager to spend time with his lovely wife.
“My husband said that was something he really wanted to do when he found out he was going to be coming home,” his wife Shannon Howard, 28, told InsideEdition.com.
The original plan was for Howard to surprise his children in their class. But the teachers decided to do something bigger and better. They wanted the moment to honor his service to the country. They hired photographer Chelsie Casagrande from Big House Photography to capture the moment forever on film.
“I’ve been very transparent about our story this whole time,” said Shannon, a high school social studies teacher at the school. “[I told them,] ‘If I ever come in and I’m in a bad mood, be nice to me.’”
Howard left his wife for deployment in Jordan last January when she was three months pregnant.
“The kids have gone through a lot this past year, and it’s been pretty crazy,” she said.
Declan’s birth happened while Seth was away serving America. Although Howard watched many of the first moments on FaceTime, it cannot replace the in-person connection.
“[Declan] has been smiling like crazy,” Shannon said. “It’s almost like he knows this guy is going to be really important in his life. I think he recognized him. It wasn’t like it was a stranger, but he’s been smiling at my husband ever since.”
Howard has no upcoming plans for deployment. That means he can dedicate all his energy to his family during the holiday season. There’s no better gift than that.
It’s never a bad time to show some extra kindness to veterans and their families.
Watch the magical reunion in the video below!