These stories never get old.
Lilly and Lennon Cowley were sitting in an assembly at Vista Springs Charter School in Vista on Tuesday. The gathered students stood as a JROTC Color Guard carried out the "Star Spangled Banner." Then, the kindergartner and her first-grade sister helped lead everyone in the "Pledge of Allegiance" in English and Spanish.
It's a daily routine for the students but it was perhaps a little more special for two girls who haven't seen their father in months.
First Class Petty Officer Cody Cowley deployed onboard the Naval carrier USS Abraham Lincoln last April.
He missed holidays. He missed birthdays. He missed his two little girls grow.
"Very, very frustrating," he said. "I felt like I missed quite a bit."
Lilly and Lennon simply missed their dad who left Norfolk, Virginia on the Lincoln ten months ago. Since then, they moved across country, moved into a new home, and started a new school.
Both of their hearts stopped as the assembly concluded, "...with liberty and justice for all."
Dad magically appeared from behind a black screen. Lennon squealed a "Daddy!" as she ran to his open arms. Lilly seemed stunned by the man hugging her sister.
PO1 Cowley knelt and hugged both of his daughters as teachers and adults wiped tears from their eyes.
"They mean everything to me," he said.
"This is so wonderful," said Vista Springs Charter principal Sarah Adams, who conspired with the Cowleys to surprise the girls.