JOPLIN PROUD, 10 YEARS LATER: FORMER MISSOURI GOV. JAY NIXON THANKS THE SALVATION ARMY
With a humid wind blowing through the air of the same place where 10 years ago, Joplin’s leaders Saturday commemorated the 10-year anniversary of the deadly Joplin tornado that ripped a six-mile swath of destruction, leaving 162 people dead and billions of dollars in devastation.
The Salvation Army was on hand at the event with its SATERN truck, which uses a separate radio frequency for emergency news, should another emergency knock out radio lines and crucial communications. Since 2011, The Salvation Army has been a prominent presence in the long rebuild of the Joplin community.
Former Gov. Jay Nixon, U.S. Congressman Billy Long and Joplin mayor Ryan Stanley addressed a live crowd of about a thousand people at Joplin’s Cunningham Park, remembering the people who lost their lives that day, in addition to the resilience of the community in rebuilding.
“It’s an important day for Joplin,” Gov. Nixon, who left office in 2017, told The Salvation Army Midland Division in an interview after talking to the crowd. “The ten-year mark gives us a chance to be somber and remember the losses, but equally importantly, look at the jumpstart that this is going to be, to continue the momentum of the past 10 years.”
Giving credit to the Red Shield, Gov. Nixon said of the recovery effort, “Volunteer groups from around the country, like The Salvation Army, made the winning difference on the front end of this. People didn’t go hungry, people had what they needed. Debris was removed. People had the confidence to rebuild. I’d like to thank the Salvation Army and many other groups for leading in that and literally passing their confidence to the people in town.”
During the presentation, the names of victims were read one at a time, slowly and deliberately, as yellow flags bearing the names of the deceased lined the park’s sidewalk, and a huge American flag hung from a construction crane in the sky. A kids’ arts-and-crafts area led to the construction of three small trees, decorated with splashes of color on coffee filters, on the stage.
Gov. Nixon said of remembering the devastation when preparing Saturday’s speech, “When you look at those pictures, it was so dramatic. Ultimately, my thoughts went to the people. Not just the people here who were victims, but also those that fought hard to make it better, all of the public servants who came here, 200,000 volunteers, from all 50 states and around the world. That magic sauce of volunteerism and willingness to work together, is the magic of the future of this country also. And Salvation Army is a big part of that. We appreciate it.”
Local Salvation Army Lieutenant Marty Norris was on hand Saturday and took a break from talking with residents to speak with the Midland Division.
“The importance [of today] is knowing that we are supported by the community that we’re here also to support them,” Lt. Norris said. “We can’t do what we do without the community’s help. We’re here to help in any way that we possibly can. It doesn’t matter if it’s something small.”
Interview with Governor Jay Nixon