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High School Graduations are a time for celebration with family and friends, as the graduate’s future is laid out before them and the world is his or her oyster.

Unfortunately, this was not the case in a recent graduation ceremony in Clarksville High School in Arkansas.  When Dakota Smith walked across the stage to receive his diploma, his heart was very heavy.  His father, Sonny Smith, a local police officer, was killed in the line of duty just hours before the ceremony.  Dakota wanted to show a sign of strength over grief to make his father proud, so he decided to attend and walk the stage with the rest of his class.  The news of Dakota’s bravery  spread quickly and police officers who knew Reserve Deputy Sonny Smith assembled alongside the stage to stand in for the father who couldn’t be there.

Police officers are family and this case was no exception.  When Dakota walked the stage, over a dozen local officers stood at attention and saluted the son of their comrade.  Dakota Smith received a standing ovation from the crowd.

“There was a lot of outpouring emotion… he received a lot of applause and rightfully so,” School Superintendent David Hopkins told KARK News.

“It took a lot of courage for him and his family to be here tonight and I know that’s where their dad would want them to be.”

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