Soldiers sacrifice everything for their country. They spend years serving abroad, without seeing their family and friends, in order to protect their countrymen. They risk their lives everyday to make sure we enjoy the comforts of living in a free democracy free of violence and turmoil.
The brave men and women miss out on birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and important days we all take for granted. Alea was only nine years old when her brother, a marine was deployed overseas. They had kept in touch since he left in 2011, but it wasn't the same not having him around.
Her brother Brandon Griffith was stationed in San Diego, California. He served in Afghanistan and Iraq and had recently returned from the Pacific. This made it impossible to visit his little sister in Ohio.
It also happened to be Veteran's Day.
She had asked him to visit her on her birthday which was November 19th. The 33-year-old marine told his sister he had plans for that date already.
The familiar voice told her "don't forget to smile." As soon as Alea turned and recognized her brother, she broke into tears.
"I’ve been thinking about him all day today… I was thinking, 'what if I never get to see him again?'" she says.
"It’s a really cool thing to do on a cool day. She was totally shocked, obviously, but she’s been dreaming of this. She’s a great kid," said coach Whitmer.
For the marine, it was hard to realize just how much his little sister had grown. "It makes me pretty sad that it took so long to get back. She looks grown up," he says.