Friday, August 29 2014 1:50 PM EDT2014-08-29 17:50:07 GMT
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The accidental killing of a firing range instructor by a 9-year-old girl learning to shoot an Uzi unleashed a storm of criticism and anger, with much of it aimed at her parents.More >>
WAHIAWA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
It had been ten long months since Rylie Higa had hugged her mom.
"I miss her" she said, eyes tearing as she stood bravely before television cameras inside the Iliahi Elementary School cafeteria.
Rylie's mom, Senior Airman Melissa Higa, had been deployed to Korea since February. As an only child of a single parent, Rylie's pain was evident. The ten-year old fourth grader sobbed as she dutifully answered questions about a letter she had just written.
A letter to the President of the United States.
In it, she asked President Obama to make her lone birthday wish come true: to bring her mom home to her.
How perfect that could be, for mother and daughter to be re-united on such a special day. After all, Rylie's birthday falls on Veterans Day.
However, the letter never made it to Washington D.C., because it didn't have to, and Rylie's mom would not be coming home on Veterans Day. Because she was already home, hiding behind a heavy red velvet curtain just steps away from Rylie in the cafeteria.
"I'm nervous, I'm excited. I waited a long time," Melissa, said before Rylie arrived.
After listening to her daughter's teary responses, mother couldn't wait a second longer.
She came out from behind the curtain, and when the two embraced, they held on to each other for what could have been an eternity.
"I'm proud of her," Melissa would say after the two composed their emotions. "Everyone says, they don't know how we do it, but I think it's the family that sacrifices more".
With one birthday wish granted, Melissa was asked what else the two will do on Rylie's birthday.
"Whatever she wants to do, whatever she wants."
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