Thousands of soldiers have answered the call of duty fighting in the War on Terror.
Friends and family have had to bid farewell to their loved ones, but in Madison County, students are saying good-bye to their principal who will be deployed to Afghanistan.
It was a tearful moment for Principal Sam Stalnaker as the superintendent shared a few words of encouragement, reassuring him how much he'll be missed during his 12-month tour in Afghanistan.
For the past week students at Madison County Central School have been secretly writing letters expressing their love and admiration to a man who's become their hometown hero.
Moneesha Florence said, "I want him to know I will pray for him everyday. I will think about him everyday in my thoughts, and prayers will be with him."
Jayme Herndon added, "It's sad because he has to leave his family behind, and you know that's hard for anybody, and go away and do something like that."
Those words are just a few acts of love demonstrated by students on the campus. This week students have been putting yellow ribbons on the fence in front of the school and designed an American flag out of cups as a sign of support, a gesture that touched the heart of the Principal Stalnaker.
Sam Stalnaker said, "it's hard to hold back the emotions because it's just overwhelming to know that you've got so many people that care and support you.”
So as Stalnaker travels to his destination fighting on the front-lines as a military policeman with the 160th Battalion out of Tallahassee, these third graders want to share an important message.
Friday will be Principal Stalnaker's last day on the job before heading to Afghanistan. He's a lieutenant colonel serving in the Army Reserves for 24 years with the Military Police Battalion out of Tallahassee.