Saturday's commencement ceremony at the University of North Georgia featured a surprise reunion involving a local military family.
Army Col. Norman "Chip" Kirby, Jr., a 1993 graduate of the university and former member of the school's Corps of Cadets, was recently granted a short leave from active-duty military service in the Middle East. The opportunity allowed him to surprise his daughter Taylor as she prepared to receive her diploma from school officials.
Taylor said of the surprise: "I'm excited to graduate anyway, and then he gets to be here."
Jan Kirby, Col. Kirby's wife and Taylor's mother, was apparently the only family member who knew about the surprise, and said the reunion happened around 5 months earlier than any of the others had expected.
Herself a 1993 UNG graduate, Jan said that Col. Kirby was deployed to the Middle East in September, leading the rest of the family to believe they wouldn'e see him until their son's high school graduation next spring.
"This is great," Jan said after the reunion. "I really appreciate all the help he received getting here."