By Savanah Mandeville
At approximately 5:41 pm May 22, 2011, an EF-5 tornado touched down at the western edge of Joplin city limits. In that moment, life in Joplin immediately changed.
The Joplin tornado destroyed 7,500 houses, inflicted over 1,000 injuries and took 161 lives.
While the tornado took so much, it couldn’t take Joplin’s spirit.
The Joplin Proud-10 Years Stronger Committee will host memorial events May 22 in Cunningham Park from 3 pm until 6 pm to honor the lives lost and reflect on the city’s recovery in the last 10 years.
Patrick Tuttle, a committee member and director of the Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau, said Joplin Proud is made up of volunteers who organized the five-year anniversary events. He said it was important for the community to hold memorial events recognizing the milestone anniversary but chose to scale back events compared with the five-year anniversary.
“It’s a double-edged sword because there are some folks who are still crushed by the events that happened 10 years ago and some who want to move forward and keep the memorial simple. We do not have as many activities planned as we did five years ago, but we want people and those who had a hand in the recovery to have the chance to come back and be part of the memorial.”
Events on May 22 will begin in the morning with the annual Joplin Memorial Run.
Joplin Proud events will begin at 3 pm in Cunningham Park with community awareness activities focused on preparedness for storms followed by a more formal ceremony in the evening.
At 5:41 pm, there will be a reading of the 161 names of those who lost their lives in the tornado.
“The ceremony at 5:41 pm will focus on the lives we lost,” Tuttle said. “We never want to forget them.
“There will be a formal ceremony with speakers and a singer. Our goal is to look mostly at what Joplin has done in the last 10 years and look at what we’re doing today and a glance to the future. During the related events of the day, some exciting announcements for the future could be unveiled.”
Speakers will include former Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, who was governor at the time of the tornado; Joplin Mayor Ryan Stanley; and Joplin City Manager Nick Edwards.
Tuttle said after this year, the city will likely look to the 20-year anniversary for the next memorial events.
Tuttle said taking time to pause and reflect on Joplin’s recovery and the strength, hope and resilience it took to rebuild is always important to remember.
“Recovery has been a long process, and it’s taken a lot of people to make it happen. It’s been a collective effort. Reflecting on that recovery and what has happened over the last 10 years and rebuilding and new businesses that weren’t here before and the resilience Joplin had, these are all a testament to how impactful the tornado was and what a heavy burden it was. This is something we’ll never forget.”
10 Years Stronger Events
Day: May 22, 2021
Time: 3-6 pm
Location: Cunningham Park, West 26th Street & Maiden Lane
For more information, visit Joplin Proud on Facebook.