For any military parent, celebrating a birthday must be bittersweet. After all, it’s always fun to open gifts, blow out candles and eat a slice of cake – but doing so knowing that their child is away serving overseas could certainly make it hard to fully revel in the day.
When Lee Adams went out for his birthday dinner on May 30, 2017, he felt much the same. “You don’t really lose a kid,” he told First Coast News. “It’s like a temporary loss. And yeah, it’s very, very hard.” Little did he know, however, his family had a huge surprise for him to make the day a whole lot easier.
For the military dad, then, dining out wasn’t the only surprise he would get on his special day. No, his daughter-in-law actually had a huge trick up her sleeve for starters. And the staff at the Texas Roadhouse restaurant in Orange Park, Florida, were set to do something else that would blow the family away.
You see, Lee’s son, Christopher Adams, graduated from First Colonial High School in Virginia Beach, Virginia, before joining the U.S. Army. He works as an Allied Trade Specialist in Vilseck, Germany, where he lives with his wife and young daughter. Christopher’s adopted hometown, then, is almost 5,000 miles away from his Florida-based family.
But an impending two-week break from work – falling just around the time of his dad’s birthday – gave Christopher and his wife, Courtney, an idea. So she got in touch with the Texas Roadhouse and made a reservation for a party of 12 at 6:00 p.m. on May 30. She later wrote in a Facebook post just how thrilled the restaurant staff were to help pull off the surprise.
Courtney shared the video of Christopher’s shock entrance in her post, too. In it, the soldier – still dressed in his military fatigues – enters the Texas Roadhouse. He winds through booths and tables to reach one in the back corner, where a group of his family members are waiting for him to arrive.
Lee’s back is to his son as he makes his entrance, so family members have to tell him to turn around. When he does, he sees Christopher and shouts, “Hey dude!” before the father and son share a heart-warming embrace.
The moment quickly becomes emotional for everyone involved, but especially for the Adams family’s patriarch. “Oh, he’s crying!” someone at the table says. Although the video only shows Lee from behind, his grip visibly tightens around his son’s back, showing just how happy he was to see him.
At the time, Lee had absolutely no idea of his family’s plan. He told First Coast News that he had even spoken to his son, but Christopher had given no hint of his impending visit. Lee recalled, “He said, ‘I’ll see you soon,’ whatever that meant. I think I found out.”
Lee reflected further on the moment he was reunited with his soldier son. He went on to describe the second he turned and saw Christopher to his left. “It was like a miracle to me,” he said. And according to Christopher’s wife, Courtney, the restaurant played a huge part in that moment’s miraculous success.
Indeed, in the same Facebook post in which she shared the video, she lauded the restaurant’s staff. “Not only did they reserve us a table, they closed all the blinds so [Lee] couldn’t see if we happened to walk by the wrong window,” Courtney wrote.
Yes, the restaurant’s manager, Eric Marshall, played a huge role in making sure the touching meeting went to plan. Not only did he carefully guide Christopher to the table where his family sat, but he also recorded a video of the entire thing so the Adams could enjoy the memory forever.
To his credit, Marshall said it was a no-brainer to help the military family pull off their homecoming surprise. “We made sure we were on top of the whole entire event for them to make sure we could make it as legendary as possible for them,” he said.
But they didn’t stop there. Marshall and other members of the Texas Roadhouse staff also ordered a cake especially for Lee and Christopher to share. The patriotically hued dessert read “Stars and Stripes Forever” alongside a warm “Welcome Home” for the Germany-based soldier.
And yet, they weren’t done there, either. Their server brought the final surprise when she handed the Adams family the cheque for dinner. She told First Coast News that she could barely contain her excitement for the final surprise, saying, “I was just, like, ‘It’s about to happen.’”
So what was the surprise? The restaurant’s staff had given the family their entire meal for free. Their explanation for doing so could be found on the receipt. “Welcome Home,” it read where the server’s name should have been. A stunned Courtney later decided to share her experience with her Facebook friends.
She detailed their blissful evening – which she described as “the best night ever” – and shared videos and images from the event. She never expected the post to go viral, of course, but it racked up thousands of shares and views within a few days of Lee’s birthday party.
Courtney told First Coast News that she couldn’t believe her post had the response it did. Watching the video, though, it’s clear to see the emotion and excitement between father and son – a bond so strong Christopher describes Lee as his best friend.
In fact, their happy ending was the reason why Courtney shared the video in the first place. “A soldier coming home, that doesn’t always happen,” she said. “There’s so much bad news in the world today that it’s good to have that little glimpse of good news.”
And, while Christopher, Courtney and their daughter did eventually return to their base in Germany, the family will always have their own memory of that day and the good news their son hand-delivered from the Army: he was safe, and he was home to celebrate his dad’s birthday.