Photos by Matt Choquette
Sixth-grader Tayber Belk got the surprise of the year this morning when she arrived at Sapulpa Middle School.
At what started off as a normal school assembly with the Pledge of Allegiance, Assistant Principal Kimberley Leonard called on Tayber to come assist with a moment of silence.
Tayber didn’t see it, but from the back of the gymnasium approached her brother, Austin Martin a fourth-generation marine who’s just returned from active military duty; Tayber hadn’t seen her brother in a year.
After the moment of silence, Leonard turned to Tayber Belk and told her, “we have a surprise for you.”
Belk turned around and saw her brother standing there. Without a moment’s hesitation she threw her arms around him and squeezed so tight he lifted her off the ground.
They stood like that for a full minute as the crowd gathered in the gym cheered and clapped. Finally, Martin released his sister and Leonard asked him to say something to the students. He took the microphone and began to encourage the students.
“I’m really thankful for all of you,” he began. “And I know that some of you in the future are going to go on to college, and to join the military, and I know that some of you are worried.
“I just want you to know that, don’t ever give up on yourself, alright? Times get hard, but you come from a small town—Sapulpa—and there’s nobody in Sapulpa that quits, so don’t let that die. Can you do that, for me?”
Martin and Belk accompanied the news crews outside, where we learned that Martin had been back home since Sunday, waiting to surprise his little sister. Other family members had been out of town and were trying to get everyone together to make it an event.
Martin is a fourth-generation Marine. See photos and the live video below.