Army Sgt. Timothy Ott left his family for a second tour in Afghanistan three weeks ago, and his kids thought it would be six months until they saw him again.
But thanks to faculty at Overlook Elementary School and media specialists for Anne Arundel County Public Schoos (AACPS), Ott surprised his two kids, Tristan and Liberty, with a video conference reading of The Flag We Love by Pam Muñoz Ryan on Friday.
"How are you guys?" Ott asked, from an undisclosed location 7,000 miles away in Afghanistan.
More than 200 antsy kids replied with an extended, "Gooood."
Ott read a book about the history of the people who created the American flag and those who have upheld its honor, representing the American people.
Then, for 10 minutes, he took questions from students, answering inquiries about the food a soldier eats, the weather in Afghanistan and how often he gets to watch the Baltimore Ravens play.
"They're showing more Steelers games than they are Ravens games," Ott said, eliciting a groan from the students. He then got the biggest cheer of the day, assuring them, "We do like the Ravens here in Afghanistan."
Ott's wife, Malia, said he has come to the school for the past several years on Veterans Day to read to students, but when they found out he would be away this holiday, they thought a live video stream of the reading could be more special for their kids and the other Overlook students.
"It's really cool that it finally got to come together," Malia told Patch. "I know the school worked really hard to get everything organized before he left, so they set eveything up and all he had to do was pretty much go there."
Tristan, 7, a second grader at the school, said he will "feel a lot happier" once his dad comes back in April.
Liberty, 5, a kindergartner at Overlook, said she's looking forward to playing board games and computer games with her dad.
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