Soldiers and Students Together for Graduation - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

05/22/05

Soldiers and Students Together for Graduation

Liberty County High's graduation was sent by satellite overseas to deployed dads and moms. Liberty County High's graduation was sent by satellite overseas to deployed dads and moms.
Proud Parents: Soldiers in Iraq watch their children graduate via satellite. Proud Parents: Soldiers in Iraq watch their children graduate via satellite.
Shamario Jackson shows off his diploma. His father in Iraq watched him receive it. Shamario Jackson shows off his diploma. His father in Iraq watched him receive it.

The high school class of 2005 is graduating; however, not everyone is here for their special day, especially in Liberty County where many students have one or both parents deployed to Iraq. Now, the Army and the Liberty County Board of Education are teaming up to make sure soldiers don't miss a thing.

Liberty County High School seniors Nicole Jackson and Shamario Jackson have been waiting for this day for four years. "I am too happy," exclaimed Shamario Jackson, "this is my time. I'm celebrating!"

Their parents are celebrating, too. Families tearfully watch the fruits of their labor on one of the proudest days of their lives, even if they're seeing it from half a world away.

"I was like, 'oh! I can see my dad," laughed Nicole Jackson.

"I saw him on the screen," said Shamario Jackson.

Both their fathers didn't see their graduation from the stands. Instead, they saw it on television screens while stationed in Iraq. For many seniors, the thought of their loved ones missing their graduation was too much to bear. Since deployed soldiers couldn't be home, the Army did the next best thing: setting up 30 foot video screens so parents could watch their loved ones walk across the stage. This is the first time the Army has ever done this during a deployment.

"We're always in the mode of trying to do whatever we can to increase morale and the welfare of the family members and soldiers," explained SFC Terence Green. "This makes a difference, absolutely."

That difference is being felt by graduates, too.

"It was neat that I actually got to see him and he got to see me," said Shamario Jackson. "I feel like he was here with me and my mom on my big day."

"It meant a lot," added Nicole Jackson. "It meant he gets to see his daughter do something big."

Families, along with their graduating sons and daughters, also got to hear the news they were waiting for as the Liberty County High School class of 2005 was dismissed.

The Liberty County Board of Education also simulcast Bradwell Institute's graduation. The Army is sending out DVDs to soldiers overseas who did not get to see the simulcast.

Reported by: Melanie A. Ruberti, mruberti@wtoc.com

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