Daniel Powers greets his father, Keith Powers, a U.S. Army veteran who had served in Kuwait, as he arrived for a welcome-home visit at Haines School in New Lenox, IL, on Wednesday, May 1, 2013. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 3, 2013 3:34PM
Just about everyone teared up: most of the teachers, some of the children, all of the family.
It was a hero’s welcome that took place Wednesday afternoon at Haines Elementary School in New Lenox, and there was hardly a dry eye in the building.
When Daniel Powers, 7, woke up Wednesday morning and put on his camouflage shorts, he was unaware of the surprise that awaited him. He thought the highlight of his school day would be taking part in the Dance for A Cure fundraiser.
Instead, Principal Jackie Millie spoke about heroes who keep us safe. Just then, a man in Army fatigues walked into the gym carrying a fistful of red, white and blue balloons.
Spc. Keith Powers served the last nine months in Kuwait with the National Guard. Finally home, he surprised his son, Danny, at school.
The boy at first covered his mouth in disbelief. Then he ran up, giving his dad a big hug.
The soldier’s wife, Angeline; his stepdaughter, Katlyn Bodell, 13; and his parents, Steve and Cindy Powers, already had met him at the airport.
“It hasn’t really sunk in yet,” Keith Powers said of the homecoming. “Still in shock, I guess.”
As the rest of the first-graders continued with their dance, Danny’s partner was his special guest. His dad jumped right in and started dancing, following along with his son.
Keith Powers has been in the National Guard for three years. He is an airframe helicopter mechanic, fixing sheet metal. Before that, he was a union electrician.
“Look at the smile on (Danny’s) face,” Cindy Powers said. “I remember the day (Keith) left, it was all pout.”
Danny said he was excited about building Legos and playing video games with his dad. Not knowing exactly when his dad would come home, he already had made a welcome-home poster that read, “My hero.”
“How do you beat this?” New Lenox School District 122 Supt. Michael Sass said. “My goodness, everyone’s got goose bumps.”
The Powers family said they didn’t have any special plans for the rest of the day. All they knew was that whatever they did, they would do it together.