Two days or two years, Joplin & Moore remain ‘strong & proud’

May 22, 2013
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Anniversaries are supposed to be joyous, celebratory occasions. But sadly for reasons we will never know, far too many “anniversaries” are reserved for tragedies and pain.

From acts of war, December 7th, 1941 and September 11, 2001/2012 to dates of natural disaster. Joplin, Missouri May 22, 2011 and a new date added to the calendar May 20, 2013, Moore, Oklahoma.

The Corner reflects upon the two year anniversary of our Joplin tornado with today’s anniversary editorial of my own Joplin Globe and below that the “Strength from Within” column written in the aftermath.  (The audio essay that aired on Public Radio can be heard here.)

The video, “Joplin Strong, Joplin Proud” is a compilation of the one consistent thing I saw day in and day out for weeks following our tragedy and one I am already seeing in the images coming in from Moore:  the American flag flying strong, flying proud.

As we here in Joplin pay our respects and remembrance to that day two years ago and what it represents to each of us, I ask you all to please pray for the victims, families and survivors of Moore and do what you can.

But whether it be Joplin or Moore, or New York or Benghazi the single, common thread through all, is there is no answer to:
Why John, why Sue, why them?  Why the children, the most innocent of all?  Why me?  Why not me?

There is only the one, undeniable truth:  That through it all, no matter what, the only thing that really matters in a life is not the material things, but its humanity.

Or to repeat a line I sent in an email yesterday reflecting upon today:
The older I get the more I realize just how little so many things actually matter.

God speed the continued recovery of Joplin, God be with the people of Moore.

‘Why?’ has no answer

Just hours before, there was breakfast and laughter. There were pictures on the walls and memories in every room.

But in seconds, those joys of life were reduced to a concrete slab by a rage of nature that man will never fully understand.

As the tears flow and people embrace, one question rises above all others: Why?

Weep softly or shout in rage. It matters not. The answer to that one word has haunted man since the dawn of time and will follow him to eternity’s edge.

As mortals, we are equipped to handle how, what, when and where. We analyze, we report, we document, we reconstruct. We find answers.

But the sad and bitter truth is that there is no answer to “Why?”

As smart as we think we are, as enlightened as some claim to be, not one of the billions of us sharing this rock have the answer to that question.

Two days shy of today’s two-year mark of our own pain here in Joplin, the people of Moore, Okla., were, sadly, feeling theirs.

The images are eerie: A tree stripped bare, metal in its limbs as a mother carries her daughter wrapped in all she has left — her love. The hospital, the schools, the businesses and homes. … The destruction is all too familiar.

As we look back today, we would ask you to remember our day of pain, then respond to those in Moore who are living theirs.

We have come a long way since that Sunday afternoon of May 22, 2011, but we still have a long way to go.

The people of Moore are only two days into a horrific journey. Please give them a hand and, if you have the inclination, a prayer or two as well.

Though we will never get an answer as to why, we can ask: “What can we do?”

 

From the May 23, 2011 edition of the Corner:  “From our Strength Witin”:

 

(Authors Note: This was originally penned as an editorial for the Tuesday, May 24th of the Joplin Globe. Technical glitches however prevented delivery in time for the print edition and the Globe blog site servers were down as well so it is appearing for the first time here, rather than the Globe.)

Three years ago at this time the funerals were barely over and cleanup continuing in the wake of the Hwy 243 and Iris Road tornado of May 11, 2008.

With the signs of that devastation still visible and its wounds still not fully healed, we now find ourselves enduring what was never imagined just three short years ago: something far, far worse.

It took less than half an hour for a beautiful Sunday afternoon in May to be transformed into a burning, living hell.

The shards of shattered glass, two ton vehicles tossed like matchbox toys, trees stripped bare, buildings instantly turned into ruins, all became testaments to the fact that no matter how far advanced man’s technology, it is all miniscule in the path of a rampaging Mother Nature.

While it is already in the history books as the deadliest tornado in Missouri history, we feel (and we know) that it will also be written in those history books as our finest hour.
An hour when we, along with our surrounding area neighbors, did not falter, did not hesitate. An hour that while destruction was still being wreaked on Rangeline, survivors were already assisting victims on Maiden Lane. An hour that lasted long past the setting sun and well into its rising the morning next. An hour that saw a small, mid-western community show the world the very best of its best: its people.

We give a heartfelt, collective thank you to all who answered the call within those first critical hours and who continue on without concern for self as they render their assistance to whomever and wherever needed.

Our thoughts and prayers go to all the victims and their families, (their loss unimaginable to those of us spared). And while the devastation and pain cannot be ignored, we cannot be blind to the many accounts of the miracles of life now arising from the piles of hell.
We wish we could say, fear not, we’ve overcome worse. We can’t. For there has been no worse. But neither should we fear we shall not overcome. We will. For that there is no doubt.
And while the answers will be few and the questions many for the coming days, weeks and months there is one thing that is certain:

Come this next Sunday evening, the satellite trucks will be gone, the anchors will have flown back to their chairs on the coast, and the nation’s attention will have shifted on to the next catastrophe of the moment.

Come this next Sunday evening, we will still be here.
We, you, me, us, they, them, I…..all the words that make ‘us’, ‘us’ and Joplin the community she is.

We will be doing for our family, our friends, and our neighbors what we have always done: taking care of each other from the strength found within ourselves.

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One Response to Two days or two years, Joplin & Moore remain ‘strong & proud’

  1. anson on May 22, 2013 at 7:22 am

    Geoff,
    A couple of thoughts on disasters and recovery.
    First, I thought today’s editorial in the Globe was …….. Bottom line, I did not like it as the answer to the questions “Why?” is simple. Any good meteorologist knows WHY tornados happen. Mother Nature, a combination of temperature, pressure, wind, etc. cause tornados.
    Same for Cancer. Biology causes cancer. Why does a “good person” have to endure cancer or a “bad one” for that matter. Study biology enough and the answers will become evident and now supernatural intervention is needed.
    It is what to do after biology, weather, etc. does it’s thing and disaster strikes home on individuals. WHAT to do becomes the dominant question.
    Residents of Joplin found out what to do just as residents of Moore are doing right now. My guess is that Moore folks will “stand tall” and recover just as Joplin has done. Geographically, we are not far apart, nor are we very distant from one another in a spiritual sense. Call it the “midwestern” spirit if you like, or simply guts, determination, or even faith if you like.
    But just watch Moore rebound as it has done before. Two years from now, well we see the results right here in Joplin, do we not, two years after?
    There MAY be a few sitting on their duffs crying “Where is FEMA” but only a few. The rest will be too busy digging out and rebuilding to cry.
    As for money, of course it will be there to help out. But money to rebuild Moore used instead to “build roads in the Virgin Islands” (check the Sandy Hurricane Relief Bill that passed Congress), I doubt it.
    Anson

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