US Marine surprised his sister at her graduation with unannounced homecoming
She was devastated that her younger brother would not be able to attend her college graduation, but had no idea what her family had planned.
22-year-old Jessica Freedman was preparing for her graduation from Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo in June 2011, but there was one very important person missing from the group ready to celebrate with her.
Her brother, 20-year-old Eric Freedman, is a U.S. Marine Corps Lance Corporal, and was fighting in Afghanistan.
But according to a report by Mercury News, Eric and his parents had organized a special surprise for her.
Eric had every intention of attending his sister's graduation, and had gotten their parents in on the plan. Their father Mark Freedman had even contacted the university to make arrangements with them for the big reveal.
When Jessica walked across the stage to receive her degree, Dean Phil Bailey pulled out a microphone and said, “Jessica, I’m going to stop you right here,” the shocked graduate recounted. “He started talking about my dad’s call and my brother being in Afghanistan … I don’t really know what he said because I started crying.”
While the Dean was talking, Jessica saw something out of the corner of her eye that looked familiar: Her brother's dress blues uniform.
Eric stepped out from the crowd towards his sister, and the entire audience just started applauding.
“I screamed and ran over to him and hugged him,” Jessica told Mercury News. “I just started bawling.”
Cindy Freedman, Jessica and Eric's mother, expressed how perfect the moment was, and how wonderful it was that the school had been so willing to get involved to make it so.
In keeping with the ruse that Eric would not be there, he had been wearing a graduation gown over his uniform to make him more inconspicuous.
The siblings had not seen each other in 7 months since Eric was deployed. Shortly before her graduation, his whole unit had returned to the United States and was stationed at Twentynine Palms.
The whole family went out to dinner to celebrate Jessica's graduation and Eric's return after the ceremony, after which Eric returned to Twentynine Palms.
Jessica planned to continue her studies at either Cal Poly or San Jose State to acquire her teaching credential, after which she intended to become a high school maths teacher.