A brave soldier deployed to Kuwait couldn’t attend his son’s NYU graduation — so he surprised him with a heartfelt video at a ceremony in Brooklyn on Friday.
Wearing a camouflage uniform and a proud look, Army Staff Sergeant
Pedro Cruz Jr. told his son Pedro Cruz III, 22, of Staten Island he may
be 6,317 miles away — but he’s right there with him “in heart and
“He said he’s proud of me and that he loves me. It’s wonderful. I
didn’t expect this at all,” said Cruz, a civil and urban engineering
major, who hasn’t seen his dad in person for seven months.
He added, “He’s all the way overseas … He wanted to be here but we had to make the best of the situation.”
In the video — which came just in time for Memorial Day weekend — the
military man salutes his son, saying he wishes he could be there in
“Hey son, surprise. Right about now you should be on stage picking up
your degree. I wanted to be the first to congratulate you on this
special day. I really wish I was there with you but unfortunately I’m
not,” Cruz said.
He adds, “I have seen you grow so much in the last four years. It
really amazes me. I am so proud,” he said while standing in front of a
military helicopter at Camp Buehring in Kuwait.
The soldier then offers his son some life advice.
“I want you to take this special day and enjoy yourself. Don’t think
about tomorrow. Enjoy today, take it one day at a time… I love you. I
salute you, my son.”
The video message prompted a big grin from the graduate, who was decked out in a cap and gown.
NYU staffers pulled Cruz aside right after he received his diploma at
Barclays Center and showed him the video on an iPad, which he watched
The proud papa also arranged to have an American flag flown to honor his son at his base camp in Kuwait.
On Friday, he gave his son plaque that proclaims, “We will not
waiver; we will not tire and we will not fail. Peace and freedom will
It’s unclear when the military man will return home but the two talk frequently, Cruz said
“I love him and I salute him and I love him, too.” the grad said.
“He’s a very outgoing guy, loving father, very popular and loves his country,” he said.
He added he had no clue his father had been planning the sweet surprise.
“I thought I’d just go right back to my seat with everybody else,” he said.
Cruz plans to go into the construction industry, saying it’s his version of “the American dream.”
His father coordinated the surprise with help from the United Service Organizations and NYU officials, he said.