"I am home for good."
Major Roderick Cassidy said those words with a huge smile as he waited outside John F Kennedy Elementary School in Southeast Saturday afternoon.
Cassidy—who had been sitting in the car, waiting for the cue to come in and surprise his son and daughter, Roderick, Jr. and Ellie—returned home the night before. He had been stationed with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan for one year.
"We had wished that the homecoming would coincide with the school day because I know all the staff and the teachers were very excited. They've really been supportive over the year," Jennifer Cassidy, Roderick's wife, said. "Luckily, I'm involved with the PTA, and they just happened to be having a book fair with Scholastic this weekend, so we are taking advantage of having a lot of friends and some staff and faculty around for today's event."
First up on the Cassidy family's agenda was selecting and decorating a Christmas tree, a tradition the kids had been asking about for weeks.
"That's been the big thing that has them bursting at the seams," Jennifer Cassidy said.