EUREKA, MO (KTVI)-- One day before the nation celebrates its independence, a military family celebrated a reunion.
For the next 4 days, Six Flags is giving free admission to all active members of the U.S. military.
But for Army National Guard Sergeant Ashley Erickson, her free admission into the park turned into a priceless memory.
Ashley waited patiently in a backstage area as her unsuspecting children danced and enjoyed a live show outside.
They had no idea that after a 9 month long deployment in Afghanistan, thanks to operation home front, only a wall separated them from their mother.
When Parris, Nova and Evan were pulled up on stage, mom hid behind Loony Tunes characters, until it was time to wait no longer.
According to 3-year-old Evan, Wednesday afternoon's reunion is just the beginning of the hugs.
Mom coming home early was a surprise the three kids will never forget.
Ashley's husband, Maurice admitted keeping the secret form the kids was difficult.
The reunion won't last long for the Erickson’s. Maurice is scheduled to leave for a 1 year tour to Korea very soon, but until then, the Erickson’s are a complete family.
The Erickson family still has to make their way to Valdosta, Georgia, and when they do, Ashley has a long list of things the kids want to do with her first, that includes things like the swimming pool, cooking a meal, playing catch, hair and nails, and as you heard from little even, a hundred million thousand hugs.