Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A visit to Joplin, Missouri

Next up on the trip to Moore OK blog? A visit to Joplin. It has been approximately 2 ½ years since Joplin MO was hit by an F5 tornado, on May 22, 2011. There were 161 lives lost that day, who cannot recall the day it hit? It was graduation day for high schools, just the beginning of summer break for others. Spring is a beautiful season in Missouri, a season of new growth. And the start of tornado season. No one takes that for granted. Even here in Indiana,that time of year tornado watches and warnings are common. In retrospect any town hit by a devastating tornado can come up with what ifs and plans for what could, should, would happen. The future is just that, the future. When we decided to stop at Joplin we did so to see Cunningham Park. It is a beautiful place, a place to honor those who died, those who helped rebuild and those who's lives changed forever. There is a fountain, with spigots that represent the date the tornado changed everything. Five on top, twenty two in the middle and 11 on the bottom, signifying May 22, 2011. The fountain has a plaque in front with the names of each person who lost their life that day. The plaque is large, you can run your fingers over the names imagining the life that went with it. You follow a path that leads to a tribute to the volunteers that came to help. It was designed to honor the many that have changed Joplin, not for money or fame, but because they felt called to help recover the town from devastation. There, a mosaic of pieces of people's lives. A fork, a piece of plastic which was once a bowl or glass, keys and trinkets. Memories in cement. There are work tools set in cement, gloves, a hard hat, sledge hammer. The volunteer tribute is moving in a different way, it tells the story of people who could have easily “let someone else do it” and continued on with their lives. Only they didn't, Joplin called them in. As you continue along the path, there are playground areas, picnic shelters. Toward the end is a small water feature, a shallow pond with gold fish and a water fall. This is a tribute to the children who will never play at this park, who's lives were cut short by the tornado and those taken too soon. While we were there two boys were playing, surely they did not know the significance their playing meant. It was as though life, once stopped on that horrible day, now goes on. Along this journey that SPPRAK took in route to Moore, OK, we felt called ourselves to check on what had happened to this town, how do you come back from such tragedy? Do you even want to? The answer here is yes, you do come back, yes you do want to. But it is not without struggle, and lessons learned. You will see later how these lessons impacted the town of Moore. Joplin was a stop SPPRAK happened to make in our journey, we took a piece of the town with us, not in something tangible, but in spirit. 
Memorial Fountain

Names of those that lost their lives May 22, 2011

A tribute to the volunteers
Articles from tornado
Volunteer hammer

          Volunteer Hat

Reflection Pond
Ring at Cunningham Memorial Park

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