Joplin Tornado - Unity Walk

On the day of the one year anniversary of the Joplin EF5 tornado, the city planned activities to commemorate it. This day served as a dividing line between recovery and moving on for many people. It was very clear to see how far we have come, and to celebrate the spirit of Joplin in getting down to work and helping each other. It is like no other place on earth in the response to the tragedy. I am so proud to be part of such a city. There was a Unity Walk planned, over three miles long, that wound through the affected area, with activities along the way, such as groundbreaking for the new high school, placing of a steeple on a rebuilt church, activities for children on the grounds of one destroyed school and so forth. Many businesses set up tents along the way to give out water, cookies, bananas and hot dogs. Some people gave out home made cookies to the walkers as they passed their house that was being rebuilt.

It was a wonderful community activity that ended with ceremonies at Cunningham Park, which was repaired by Extreme Makeover - Home Edition. Because of health issues I could not walk, so I borrowed a wheel chair and my son pushed me through the latter part of the walk. It was a very meaningful time for me to be with the community doing this. The spirit was very celebratory and friendly, we all went through this together, and we survived and flourished. There were people who came from out of town to join us, and this meant a lot too.

We started on the street where we used to live.
We started on the street where we used to live.
With the rubble all cleared, the landscape is largely empty, right in the middle of town.
With the rubble all cleared, the landscape is largely empty, right in the middle of town.
Trees that were stripped but survived have regrown in odd shapes that look like something from Dr. Seuss.
Trees that were stripped but survived have regrown in odd shapes that look like something from Dr. Seuss.
Many businesses set up tents along the rout to give out water and refreshments.
Many businesses set up tents along the rout to give out water and refreshments.
Some trees still have debris lodged in the branches.
Some trees still have debris lodged in the branches.
An estimated 6,000 people took part in the walk, about 8,000 at the closing ceremonies.
An estimated 6,000 people took part in the walk, about 8,000 at the closing ceremonies.
Some had it easier that others along the way.
Some had it easier that others along the way.
We saw many homes in the process of being built, some finished, some still in ruins.  The devastation was so far reaching that it will take years to recover.
We saw many homes in the process of being built, some finished, some still in ruins. The devastation was so far reaching that it will take years to recover.
Dogs came too.  Some were search and rescue dogs, some were survivors, and some were pets.
Dogs came too. Some were search and rescue dogs, some were survivors, and some were pets.
Children's activities on the grounds of a destroyed school
Children's activities on the grounds of a destroyed school
There was much media presence.
There was much media presence.
Cunningham Park, where the closing ceremonies took place, is across the road from the ruins of St. John's hospital.
Cunningham Park, where the closing ceremonies took place, is across the road from the ruins of St. John's hospital.
Closing ceremonies.
Closing ceremonies.
People wore T shirts with all kinds of messages of hope and remembrance.
People wore T shirts with all kinds of messages of hope and remembrance.
After a moment of silence at the exact time of the tornado strike, a balloon was released.
After a moment of silence at the exact time of the tornado strike, a balloon was released.
Ceremony dedicating the last of 161 trees planted in the park to commemorate those who died in the tornado.
Ceremony dedicating the last of 161 trees planted in the park to commemorate those who died in the tornado.

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