MAHWAH, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A family reunion took a New Jersey elementary school by surprise – teaching children not only a lesson about family, but about service to our country.

Students at the Betsy Ross School in Mahwah were given simple instructions, wear red, white, and blue, and pay attention during Thursday’s assembly.

“Here at school we talk about Veterans Day,” a speaker at the school said.

Though the holiday was last month, service members were the topic of discussion.

That’s because one student, Annabel Diamond, thought she was about to spend the holidays without her dad, First Sergeant Kevin Morse. Who has been stationed in Qatar for almost a year now.

Her teacher Mrs. Bregman instructed all of Annabel’s classmates to write cards to him, so whenever he did return, he’d be welcomed with open arms.

“Thank you for all of your hard work.”

“Thank you for being so brave, goodbye, love Annabel,” the cards read.

“It was really great to listen to the kids brainstorm words that they came up with… Bravery, determination, protection,” Lori Bregman said.

Annabel was under the impression she’d take the cards home to decorate the house with for her dad’s arrival – whenever that may be.

Little did Annabel know, he was much closer than she had thought.

First Sergeant Kevin Morse and daughter reunited at the Betsy Ross School. (Credit: CBS2)

At the last second, Sgt. Morse was able to come home for the holidays. Annabel’s teacher found out on Tuesday and quickly arranged the surprise reunion that left both speechless.

“Made me feel really good, really happy,” Annabel’s father said.

“It was amazing, it was wonderful and beautiful to think finally they could spend time together again because it’s been so long that they’ve been apart.”

After months of communicating through only FaceTime and over the phone, the family hopes to spend every second together and even squeeze in a vacation.

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