Jim Reed has been deployed to the Middle East seven times since the events of Sept. 11, 2001. But for one Columbia County youngster, the sacrifice of not having her father at home is worth every missed event that the two cannot share.
"I'm very proud of what my dad does," said Heather Reed, a 10-year-old fifth-grader at Riverside Elementary School. "Even though I don't get to see him a lot, sometimes I forget that he's saving people's lives every day. I'm proud of the fact that he's saving lives so they can come back to their families."
Mr. Reed is a certified registered nurse anesthetist in the Special Forces Army Unit that recently returned from Iraq.
He will deploy to Afghanistan in September.
"Military kids are just great kids," said Holly Reed, Heather's mother. "They are very adaptable. They do great with it."
The deployments, coupled with moves for the family, have been a fact of life for the family of four. In fact, the family will move to Fort Bragg next month after the school year ends.
"We really had hoped we'd be here longer," Ms. Reed said. "We would have been here three years in June."
Despite all the ups and downs of being a military child, Heather said she has learned to roll with the punches and finds the positive in each new opportunity.
"I'm actually kind of glad I'm going to be moving to Fort Bragg right before middle school," she said, adding that the curriculum there will allow her to enroll in both the orchestra and choir. "I'm excited about that."
At Riverside Elementary, Heather has been a star student in the school's ensemble where she is the school's most outstanding violin student.
"I consider her outstanding academically with extracurricular talent and a special music talent," said Judy Dunn, the music specialist at Riverside Elementary. "She is willing to go the extra mile, no matter what."
Dunn said Heather broke her wrist soon after Christmas, but kept a positive attitude by verbalizing the fingerings of the songs learned on her violin while pretend bowing.
"This allowed her to not fall behind in her ensemble group," Dunn said.
Heather was chosen as the school's soloist for last year's "Proud to Be an American Concert" and recently finished participating in the Augusta Opera's production of Hansel and Gretel.
She has just begun rehearsing with the Augusta Children's Chorale for her part in Augusta Opera's La Boheme, May 11-12.
"She exhibits wonderful character traits showing kindness and concern for every one no matter what the situation," Dunn said. "She thinks of herself as very ordinary, even though she is certainly not ordinary."
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