Neshoba Central remembers 9/11, two soldiers


A pre-game 9/11 tribute at Neshoba Central on Sept. 11 remembered victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and two of the Rockets’ own, 2nd Lt. Matthew Stovall and Sgt. Joshua Ladd, who would later die serving in Iraq.

Jaharon Griffin, a junior at Neshoba Central and inside linebacker for the football team, was moved by the the observance that included a video and patriotic parachute jump.

“I look at how some people are nowadays, and I see that they hurt people and do hurtful things just because of how they feel towards someone else,” Griffin said. “The video was sad, emotional, and deep for me.”

The most impactful part of the tribute was the part of the video showing victims jumping from the windows of the World Trade Center towers. He said he wants be thankful for what’s been given and to not take things for granted. 

“9/11 was an an attack on our country…an attack on Americans. It was no accident,” he said. “I’ve learned from my history classes here that people are still in shock from that day. Tell your loved ones that you love them and that you’re thankful for them, always.”

The school lined up a three-man parachute team, shot fireworks and streamers and honored the two former students, said Tommy Holland, athletic director.

The response was overwhelming, Holland said. “People told me they got chills. It was a neat moment and we forgot about every else at that moment,” he said. “We wanted to make it a special day for everyone, even for those who weren’t born yet. Part of history is keeping it alive so we can remember the good and the bad.”

Holland said everyone who died on that day — including Matt Stovall and Joshua Ladd later in the war — made the ultimate sacrifice and he wants to make sure they are honored. 

John Addy, a senior at Neshoba Central, said producing the tribute video was a “cool and moving experience.”

“I do the video board for other games and such, so I was in the position to make this video,” Addy said. “I felt it was a good collection of things that would go together and help the crowd understand what happened on that day and how it happened.”

Addy felt the tribute to the two former NCHS students was the most impactful part of his video. 

Video by JOHN LEE

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“A lot of people from here knew Matt and Joshua and this hits home the hardest for them,” he said. “Everyone at the game who watched this video was affected in a big way.”

Addy said the observance keeps the events of 9/11 in perspective so students won’t forget what happened. 

“I hope my video paid good tribute,” he said. “And to those who were affected by 9/11 in one way or another, know that the pain it caused you has been felt by many other people.”

The school’s Facebook page said, “This school is bringing these kids up right... teaching them to honor and respect the men and women of the armed forces, police, firefighters, and first responders that put themselves in harm’s way to protect and serve them every day.”

Stovall, 25, was killed on Aug. 22, 2004, in Mosul, Iraq, when a roadside bomb exploded as the convoy in which he was riding passed. He was a member of the National Guard's 367th Maintenance Co. Stovall was remembered as an extraordinary leader who always had a smile on his face.

Ladd, 20, was killed in May 1, 2004, when hostile forces ambushed his convoy and a rocket-propelled grenade struck his vehicle in Iraq. He was a member of the Guard’s 298th Corps Support Battalion. Ladd was particularly dedicated and had wanted to be a soldier since he was a boy.

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