A beautiful, sunny day in Jackson was marked with sadness on Friday as the lives of two 16-year-old Jackson Academy students were memorialized at First Baptist Church. Jake Anderson and Nathan Johnson were killed in an automobile accident on Aug. 21 and the community remains shocked by the tragic loss.
The community’s response to tragedy was immediate and overwhelming. Local churches came together to provide a meal for the friends of the boys at Jackson First United Methodist Church. Both independent and public schools throughout the state flooded social media with messages of support and hope for the Jackson Academy family and the immediate families of Anderson and Johnson. Rivalries are not an issue when people are hurting.
Throughout the city on Friday, thoughtful gestures were displayed to show encouragement for mourners. The flag at Gilmore Elementary School stayed at half-mast during the week. JHS students painted a banner that read, “Aggie Nation stands with JA.” The sign at Jackson Middle School read, “Praying for JA” and the school made their parking lot available for those who were attending the funeral services.
JHS students painted a banner and hung it on JA’s campus.
The scheduled football games were played as scheduled on Friday evening, but the sorrow the community had experienced was not forgotten. Prior to kickoff at the JHS and Leroy football game, a moment of silence was observed in honor of the families, red and black support ribbons were painted in each end zone. The Jackson Academy Eagles took the field in silence to observe the memory of their schoolmates.
At the city council meeting on Aug. 21, Councilwoman Audra Raybon called the loss “a tragic event” and stated that “It does your heart good to see everybody come together as a community. I’m sorry it was over such a sad event.” Mayor South offered words of condolence saying that his prayers were with the families of the young men and also with the first responders who proved their dependability once again in a time of need.
JMS requests prayers for their neighbors.
Author Wendell C. Perry wrote, “A community is the mental and spiritual condition of knowing that the place is shared and that the people who share the place define and limit the possibilities of each other’s lives. It is the knowledge that people have of each other, their concern for others, their trust in each other, the freedom with which they come and go among themselves.”
While the community is still reeling from the tragedy, hope shines bright in the knowledge that we have united ourselves to support those who need it.
Weekly columnist. Feature Writer.