3-year-old gets surprise Valentine from Iraq

by Andrew Batten

Kira Smith and her dad, Chris Smith, enjoy a Valentine’s party at Kira’s preschool after her dad’s surprise return from Irag.

Valentine’s Day this year will be hard to top for 3-year-old Kira Smith.

On Monday, Feb. 14, Kira was sitting at the tables in her preschool classroom at Discovery Harbor Learning Center focused intently on the cookies and cupcake with bright pink icing on her plate.

But waiting on the other side of her classroom’s door was a treat that wasn’t red or pink, but army green.

Suddenly the door swung open and in walked Kira’s father, Chris Smith, clad in his U.S. National Guard uniform and fresh off the plane from Iraq.

At first, Kira looked at her dad as if he had always been there. Then she jumped up from her tiny preschool chair as high as a preschooler can.

“Daddy!” she screamed.

Chris crouched down, opened his arms wide and scooped up the little girl he’s only seen over an Internet connection for the past year while he was stationed at Camp Cropper near Baghdad.

There were lots of hugs.

And they hugged. And kissed. And the tough army man cried just a little bit.

“It was just so great to see her and hug her,” he said. “I’ve been away from her for so long. It’s wonderful seeing her again. She’s my everything.”

For the next 30 minutes, Kira and her dad couldn’t get enough of each other. She introduced him to her friends and shared with him the piece of celery she had passed up for the cupcake with the bright pink icing.

Watching her husband and daughter together again, Mary Smith knew that life was finally getting back to the way it should be.

“It made all the hard times, all difficult long weeks missing him, it made it all better getting to see him,” she said.

Chris asked Kira what she wanted to do after the Valentine’s party. She wanted to ride her bike in the park. That sounded like the perfect plan to him.

Kira Smith receives a long-awaited hug and kiss from her father, Chris Smith, who has been stationed in Iraq for the past year.

And if all the welcome-home hugs and kisses weren’t enough evidence that Kira loves and missed her daddy, all anyone has to do is read the words on her shirt.

“Hey what’s your shirt say?” Chris asked her.

Pointing to each letter, she sounded it out:

“I … love … daddy. That’s you!” She screamed poking her dad in the chest.

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