Hope grows in the shadows

By: Danni Eickenhorst

The Joplin Memorial and newly constructed Cunningham Park are prepared for Joplin’s anniversary events and Day of Unity, in the shadow of the remains of St. John’s hospital.

Today, I arrived in Joplin at a pivotal point in both the city’s and my own healing process following the Joplin tornado, an event that radically changed the lives of thousands in the span of 32 minutes.

I haven’t been in Joplin, minus a very short trip recently, and really toured the damage since August, when I worked on a film for The Salvation Army. On my last trip of any length here, the town had not yet officially begun it’s rebuilding process, as they were only then issuing building permits – but save for a few renegade or priority projects, the landscape was still rather barren, and still dotted with prominent signs of destruction.

Tomorrow, the City of Joplin is hosting a Day of Unity event, and I encourage all those who have a tie to the work in Joplin to attend. Residents, first responders, volunteers alike will stand to benefit from seeing this town in a better state, and the hope that is beginning to grow in the shadows of the bits of destruction that still stand.

Starting at 2:00 p.m., we will depart 20th & Duquesne and walk the path of the tornado, finally ending our journey at 5:15 at Cunningham Park for festivities and an official remembrance at 5:41 p.m., the time the tornado struck last year, changing everything.

As every good reporter does, I previewed my path in advance today and ended my drive at Cunningham Park. I won’t lie and say that things are just as they were before the storm. In fact, I don’t know what Joplin was like before the storm firsthand, though I’ve heard many times of the beautiful tree-lined streets.

The town is still very sparse and there are still many signs of destruction, but there is also a real tangible hope in these people and in this town. Businesses are starting to rebuild and it appears that people have not abandoned this community as we once feared.

On the eve of tomorrow’s events, those that did leave town are returning to make their peace. I sat at the memorial constructed at Cunningham Park, in the shadows of St. John’s Hospital, which still stands in much the same condition I first found it.Sitting there in the park, I watched people trickle in, say prayers and consider what the day meant to them.

In the year since I first arrived in this town, The Salvation Army and other organizations have united to do such good for this community, and it’s with excitement that I await tomorrow’s events. It’s with an eye to the future and a heart for celebrating the many impossible odds they’ve overcome that the City of Joplin will recognize this day.

Tonight, I heard President Obama and Governor Jay Nixon speak at the Joplin High School Commencement Ceremony, and there I heard speaker after speaker share stories of tragedy and triumph.

Governor Nixon said, “Every day the sun sets on a new Joplin, and rises on a better place,” and this, above all the many inspiring speeches heard tonight best embodied what I see in this town. President Obama said, “Some of the bonds that are strongest in life are the ones we forget when all around us seems to be broken.”

I look forward to tomorrow – to the ceremonies of celebration and triumph in the shadows of the ruins of St. John’s hospital, and the good things to come for this great town.

Advertisements
Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: