May 23—Well, Joplin, we finally made it.
We made it to May 22, 2021, which was 10 years to the day of the devastating EF5 tornado that hit the city, and we got through it to today, May 23.
May 22 was filled with events to commemorate the tornado.
The day kicked off with some rain, but that didn't deter thousands of people who took to the streets as part of the Joplin Memorial Run. The event is not a time for personal bests, and it's not about winning or losing; it's a celebration of recovery and regrowth and a way to recognize the tornado's victims.
Although the venue (Cunningham Park) was different this year, many aspects were the same: the banners bearing the names of the 161 victims, the many runners who participated in memory of a loved one, the atmosphere of camaraderie for a community that has endured so much.
"When you come down here, Joplin is so welcoming and friendly," said Boonville resident Connie Whitehurse, who ran the 5K in honor of her 10-year-old grandson, Sebastian Frost, and daughter-in-law Marsha Frost, 32. "Even though you hardly know anyone here, you still feel like you have friends."
In the middle of the day, groups put their own spin on tornado anniversary events. Kansas City University, which built an osteopathic medical school in Joplin after the tornado, held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new College of Dental Medicine here. And plans were unveiled for St. Mary's cross Saturday afternoon.
By the evening — the time at which the tornado tore through the city a decade ago — local leaders turned their attention to the 161 victims, reading their names aloud during a remembrance ceremony at Cunningham Park. They also reviewed how far Joplin has come in the past decade, as former Gov. Jay Nixon, one of the guest speakers, detailed the resiliency and determination of residents to rebuild and the thousands of volunteers who helped make that possible.
We know May 22, 2021, was a difficult day for many. But it was also an important day for this community.
It was a day that honored the past, celebrated the present and looked to the future. Well done, Joplin.