(KPLR) - Last night, Joplin high school got a commencement they'll never forget. It's not so much that the president of the United States was their commencement speaker. It's that the kids and their parents and the entire community are amazingly, improbably and resolutely alive.
It was a year ago that a tornado with the power of an air force bombing campaign touched down at the intersection of JJ Highway and Newton Road in Joplin. It was 5:34 in the afternoon, thirty-eight minutes later and 22 miles away, the funnel finally became thinner until it disappeared. Winds had topped out at well over 200 miles an hour.
162 people died. Over a thousand were injured. 15 thousand vehicles, from motorcycle to 18 wheel trucks, were tossed anywhere from a couple of hundred yards to two miles. Damage was in the billions. A rubber hose was driven straight through a tree. It was that kind of storm.
A year later, Joplin is recovering. Notice I didn't say, recovered. You don't recover from something like this. You go thorough the process. You rebuild. You replant. And yet years later you remember someone who died and you start crying. Recovery never stops. It goes on, like life itself.
One survivor said we're united now more than ever before after something like this. That's the kind of message this divided country needs to hear. Again. And again.
I'm Charles Jaco and that's Jacology.