Veterans Day celebration at Gautier High School
Veterans Day is tomorrow, but schools across the Coast spent all week in celebration of those who fought for our freedom.
News 25’s Caroline Eaker was on hand at Gautier High School during their huge celebration this morning.
In 1999, Gautier High School history teacher Susie Bounds wanted to bring her lesson about war and conflict to life for her students. “I basically asked students and teachers to send in names of veterans and I would send them invitations. This provided my students an opportunity and all students an opportunity to meet the men and women who we study about in class.”
What started 18 years ago in a small classroom has now grown into a school wide celebration hosting over two hundred veterans. “I probably had like 40 veterans the first year which was a huge success. It’s grown. We have got around 300 or 350 veterans that attend each year,” said Bounds.
That U.S. history lesson about war become a reality for Anthony McDaniel, a 2006 Gautier High School alum. McDaniel was four months into his second deployment when he lost both his legs and his left hand after stepping on an IED in Afghanistan. Although eight years later, this hometown hero may sit in a wheelchair, he is still making his alma mater stand proud as he competes as a paraplegic athlete, earning numerous medals playing basketball at Wounded Warrior games. “I wanted to at least play well in something. So I did pretty good out there and I was like you know what, I got something for Gautier High School whenever I come back.”
McDaniel and all veterans at the event are no strangers to sacrifice, but the loud USA chants coming from the Gautier High students help these service members remember what they spent so many years fighting for. “People really deal with a lot of things, not just during the military time, but after. It’s a lot of mental damage that a lot of people go through. They kind of shut their selves out. So, for everybody to come out and be able to enjoy this even if it’s just for a little while,” said McDaniel.