At the end of the school year in 2005, the seniors at Miami East High School were getting ready for their graduation ceremony, looking forward to walking across the stage and accepting their diploma in front of their families.
But for Miranda Maggart, it wouldn’t be her whole family. There was one very special person in her life who would be missing out on the milestone: her brother, Airman First Class Derrek Maggart, who for months had been stationed in South Korea.
While he was set to return home soon, he regretfully informed his sister that he wouldn’t make it back in time for her ceremony—he would miss it by just two days.
While Miranda was disappointed her brother wouldn’t be there, life went on, and when graduation day arrived she sat with her peers as the ceremony commenced.
At the start of the proceedings, a group of veterans presented the flag on stage.
They walked off, and another soldier entered.
“Good evening everybody,” he said. “Will you please join me in the Pledge of Allegiance?”
At his request, everyone placed their hands over their hearts and began reciting the pledge.
Everyone except Miranda, who was suddenly in tears.
Because she recognized the voice of the man on stage.
It was her brother, surprising her by making it to the graduation after all!
“You may be seated,” Derrek said at the conclusion of the pledge.
Miranda couldn’t hold back her emotions. She ran up on stage to hug her brother. The attendees realized what was happening and broke into applause.
After the touching scene, the school’s principal, Todd Gentis, went to the podium and explained the situation to the crowd, how the Airman arrived all the way from South Korea in time for his sister’s graduation.
He also revealed that he was in on it all along:
“Miranda, for the past four weeks, I knew your brother was gonna come,” Principal Gentis announced.
“It’s been the hardest thing not to tell you.”
Derrek and Principal Gentis had planned the whole thing in secret, and it paid off in a truly unforgettable graduation moment.
“It definitely made it memorable,” Gentis told AJC.
“It turned out amazing!” Derrek wrote.