Mantua – Under the guise of an impromptu lesson about Memorial Day this week, students in Mrs. Franks’ class at Crestwood Intermediate School got to meet a real-live hero. CIS Principal, Mr. Maglionico, came to the class to talk about the upcoming Memorial Day holiday. He wanted to know what the fourth-graders knew about the holiday, and was surprised to learn they knew quite a bit — specifically, why we memorialize veterans. He asked the class about heroes, too. He posed several questions on this topic, but one of the best answers came from Kylie Tracy. When asked if she had a hero, she promptly answered, “Yes. My brother.” 

What Kylie didn’t know was that her brother, Petty Officer Third Class Justin Acklin, a 2010 Crestwood graduate, was home and eager to surprise his sister. He had spent the last two years on a Navy tour in Bahrain, and it had been ten months since he and Kylie had seen each other.

When asked how he thought Kylie would react to seeing him, Acklin joked, “You’d better not get in the way because she’ll be climbing over desks to see me!” Luckily, his overwhelmed little sister had a clear path. She bounded over to him in record time, seemingly trying to make up for the ten months they had been separated in one giant bear hug. Her mother, Debbie Tracy, was not at all surprised. “They’ve always been inseparable, until the day he shipped out,” Tracy smiled.

Amazingly, her family was able to keep their secret from young Kylie for four months. And was it worth it? “To see her face was just amazing. They’ve always been close, but that really shows the kind of relationship they have,” beams proud mom Tracy.

And what did her daughter think of introducing her hero to her classmates? “I almost fell out of my chair!  I can’t believe he’s here!” exclaimed a glowing Kylie. Thank you, Kylie, for letting us share your joy with you. And thank you, Justin, not only for your years of service to our country, but for being an excellent big brother and a hero Kylie is proud to share with her class.