Army Staff Sergeant Alonzo Harper received a pleasant surprise walking into West Newton Elementary School Friday afternoon.
Harper thought he was simply going to the school to eat lunch with his sons, second-grader Jaden and fifth grader Alonzo Jr and wife Tina.
When he arrived, red, white and blue streamers decorated the atrium.
Andria Bunner, parent and community involvement coordinator for West Newton, helped Jaden plan a Veterans Day appreciation ceremony for his father.
"As you discovered, you are not having lunch with only your sons," Bunner said. "This is a thank you for you and your family's sacrifice to ensure our freedom."
Harper is stationed at Fort Benning in a replacement company responsible for overseeing soldiers flying in and out of the country. He has previously served in Iraq.
Roger Waters of the Covington/Conyers Choral Guild sang the national anthem and Jaden Harper's classmates in Jennifer Loetzerich's class read excerpts from the poem "One Nation Under God" by Roger Robincheau.
After the short program Harper and students enjoyed cupcakes and potato chips.
Harper said he appreciated West Newton's support of the troops, and that everyone should continue to support soldiers and their families with letters, donations and prayers.
"This is a real honor," said Harper about his surprise, "because a lot of soldiers didn't get to come back to get this kind of honor."