Home, just in time for Christmas | News | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | December 22, 2017 5:00 am
Last Updated: December 20, 2017 at 1:29 pm
By CINDY CROSBY
Some moments are simply unforgettable.
Such was the case when first-grader Shawn Burden walked into his Forest Hills Elementary classroom Monday morning and realized his dad, U.S. Army National Guard Sgt. Corey Burden, was sitting in his desk. Home, just in time for Christmas.
Sgt. Burden, deployed overseas since February in Operation Atlantic Resolve, was originally scheduled to return stateside after the first of the year. Shawn’s mother, Kimberly Ann Burden, planned the surprise with the cooperation of Forest Hills Elementary, when she was found out her husband would be home for the holidays.
With a plan in place, Sgt. Burden took a seat in Shawn’s desk with his back facing the classroom door.
As the class began entering the room following activity period, it was planned for a staff member to delay Shawn in the hallway, giving his classmates time to get settled at their desks.
As Shawn entered the room and saw unfamiliar faces, he obviously realized something was amiss. Pausing in the doorway, it took him a few seconds to look toward his desk — but when he did, his expression changed to one of surprise, then complete joy.
It was an emotional reunion, as father and son reunited amid many tears.
Monday evening, 6-year old Shawn was still on cloud nine. “I didn’t know my dad was sitting in my desk until I remembered he always wore that shirt to church on Sunday,” he said.
Sgt. Burden was overjoyed that his wife had planned the surprise and was appreciative of everyone’s love and support during his homecoming.
“I wasn’t really sure how my son would respond to seeing me for the first time since I deployed 10-months ago,” he said. “We cried together like babies and he has been by my side ever since. Having a child changes people and being separated is difficult. Reuniting is very special and emotional.
“I was glad I was able to share the moment with those that watched it live with The Press and Standard,” he said. “I hope it made everyone’s day a little brighter. I want to thank everyone for sharing this special moment and especially want to thank my son’s teacher and Forest Hills Elementary for helping make it happen and for keeping it a secret.”
There is little doubt the Burden family will be celebrating the true spirit of Christmas this year.
A video of the event is available on The Press and Standard’s Facebook page.