President Obama, Comforter-in-Chief, Attends Joplin, MO Memorial Service

The Joplin Globe

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is pivoting from diplomacy on the world stage to the intimate and delicate domestic task of acting as healer-in-chief to a devastated community.

The president travels is to arrived in Joplin today, one day after returning from a six-day European tour of Ireland, England, France and Poland.

After days of focusing on the U.S. relationship with the rest of the world, he’ll turn to an even more critical connection: his own, with the American people.

The president will visit with survivors and family members of the worst tornado in decades. He will tour destroyed neighborhoods and speak at a memorial service being held by local clergy and Gov. Jay Nixon for those who lost their lives.

It’s a role Obama has had to assume with increasing frequency of late, after the mass shooting in Arizona in January in which Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was injured, when tornadoes struck Tuscaloosa, Ala., last month and more recently when flooding from the Mississippi inundated parts of Memphis, Tenn.

The service will be streamed live here:

Read more here:

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26 Responses to President Obama, Comforter-in-Chief, Attends Joplin, MO Memorial Service

  1. Joplin victims may get rental homes

    JOPLIN, Mo. — Some of the people left homeless by the Joplin tornado could be placed in rental homes nearly an hour’s drive away, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency said Monday it will consider bringing in trailers, as it did for New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, if enough homes are not available.

    FEMA’s first option for housing the thousands of displaced is to find them existing rental housing within a 55-mile radius of Joplin, because there isn’t much housing left in the city of nearly 50,000 residents that was left badly damaged by the May 22 tornado, spokeswoman Susie Stonner told The Associated Press. Nearly a third of the city was damaged by the violent storm that left killed more than 130 people. Twenty-nine people remained unaccounted for Monday.

    Stonner said that despite the distance, putting people in permanent housing is preferable to trailers — especially in an area prone to tornadoes and severe weather.

    “Wouldn’t you prefer to be in a stable building over a mobile home?” she asked. Stonner also noted that getting things like water, sewer lines and developing pads for trailers would take substantial time.

    City Administrator Mark Rohr said the goal is to keep people as close to home as possible but that “based on the circumstances we’ll have to respond accordingly.” The city has not said how many people were left homeless by the twister, but Rohr said 4,500 to 5,000 residents have registered with FEMA.

    Temporary housing will be made available for up to 18 months. Some people along the Gulf Coast still live in FEMA trailers nearly six years after Hurricane Katrina.

    Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal – Joplin victims may get rental homes

  2. Residents: Ceremony ‘wonderful tribute’ to Joplin

    JOPLIN, Mo. — It was with mixed emotions that Pamela Jean Praytor got to hear the president of the United States eulogize her son Sunday afternoon.


    “As a mama, I’m proud of him,” she said of her son. “I’m proud of what he did and thankful he saved the lives he did. But I would rather have my son back. That sounds selfish. But I miss him.”

    Her son was Christopher Lucas, a 27-year-old father who is credited with saving the lives of several employees and customers at the Pizza Hut on Range Line Road when the brutal EF-5 tornado on May 22 bore down on the restaurant.

    He was one of several heroes “who said, ‘I’m willing to die so someone else can live,’” President Barack Obama said during a memorial service at Missouri Southern State University one week after the tornado struck. Obama, Gov. Jay Nixon and several Joplin church leaders offered their support and encouragement to a crowd of tornado survivors who applauded each mention of Joplin’s resilience.

    Lucas, who served his country in the Navy until 2009, was working at Pizza Hut when the tornado hit. He ushered more than a dozen people into a freezer in the restaurant, but the door wouldn’t stay closed, Obama said as he related Lucas’ story to the thousands who filled Taylor Performing Arts Center to capacity.

    Lucas left the safety of the freezer to find a bungee cord or rope — it’s not clear exactly where or how — and returned to the freezer just as the tornado cut its path across Range Line Road.

    He secured the cord or rope to the door handle, wrapped the other end around his arm and held on as long as he could.

    “He saved more than a dozen people in that freezer,” Obama said. “There are heroes all around us, all the time.”


    Paying homage to those heroes were Josh Castillo and his son, Dylan, who both wore homemade T-shirts with a hand-drawn heart on the front and “Joplin” written in capital letters underneath.

    Dylan Castillo also had written “JHS” on the back of his shirt in hopes of drawing the attention of some of his classmates, who found their school year suddenly cut short. He is a freshman at Joplin High School and a former student at East Middle School and the old South Middle School, three buildings heavily damaged by the storm.

    “To represent Joplin in some way makes me feel useful right now,” said Josh Castillo, whose house on 11th Street is still intact. “I felt like it was important to be here (with) the opportunity to show support for those that are injured and can’t be here, those that are emotionally unable to be here.”

    Castillo said he would have attended the ceremony even if Obama had not come, but the president’s presence and remarks — particularly the notion that the foreign leaders he met during his weeklong trip to Europe last week were expressing concern about Joplin — were appreciated.

    Also appreciated, even for those who aren’t deeply religious, was seeing followers of different faiths come together during the ceremony, he said.

    “I know to a lot of people, the fact that he (Obama) showed up was significant,” he said as he clutched two small American flags in his hand. “I found some comfort in their words and knowing that for thousands and thousands of other people, that’s what they needed to hear.”


  3. Ametia says:

    May 30, 2011 8:15 AM
    Obama “amazed” at Joplin destruction: Mo. gov.

    CBS News) When President Obama toured Joplin, Mo., Sunday, he was “amazed” at the extent of the damage, says Missouri Governor Gov. Jay Nixon.

    “I think he was amazed at the size of the debris field — the size and the total devastation for houses along the way,” Nixon told “Early Show” co-anchor Rebecca Jarvis Monday. “But we were heartened to hear his commitment to their partnership. We’ve been working hard ourselves with all the state, federal and local agencies. And I can guarantee we will have a full partnership to help rebuild Joplin.”

    Nixon says he didn’t ask Mr. Obama for anything in particular, or press him for financial aid. “Yesterday was a day of memorial for our state,” Nixon says. “We’re working through all of the agencies and everyone has been very, very helpful. I did not see yesterday as a time — I wanted to get his eyes on what was going on here. But more importantly, we wanted to pause and pray for the families. We still have unaccounted for folks out there. We still have folks that are — you know, bodies being released to families. We still have DNA tests going on. And while there’s clearly a spirit of rebirth moving all across Joplin, much remains to be done.”

    Nixon pointed out that, “This is the deadliest … single tornado in the country’s history (with more than 130 people killed by the twister). You’ve got upwards of 8,000 buildings destroyed, three schools, churches, thousands and thousands of homes. Hundreds and hundreds of injuries, hundreds of deaths. This is a massive rebuilding process that I’m glad to see the president pledged a hand-in-hand work to (accomplish).

    “We’re working through all of our damage assessments. We’re going to obviously get, you know, the most in that sense that we can (in the form of help from the Washington).

    “But the most important part is to have the resolve of the people to rebuild. You’ve seen in some areas like this where folks have, you know, not come back to those cities and it’s taken literally decades to rebuild the population. I think Joplin’s going to be much different than that. The resolve there is much different. And I’m focused — the money things, we’ll work to make sure and be very aggressive. … But the most important thing is that spirit there, and continuing the Good Samaritan spirit of people coming from all across the country to help us.”

    CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy has noticed much the same thing, reporting from Joplin Monday on “The Early Show” that, “Almost everywhere you go in this town right now, you also see a lot of this. American flags are everywhere. Signs of mourning and hope.”

    Survivors and others gathered for a moment of silence Sunday at 5:41 when, a week earlier, the tornado so violently changed Joplin.

    The president addressed a memorial service Sunday, saying to loud cheers, “The cameras may leave, the spotlight may shift, but we will be with you every step of the way, until Joplin is restored and this community is back on its feet. We’re not going anywhere.”

    People are now dividing up into debris piles what was once their homes, Tracy noted. The city will start hauling it away this week. “So,” Tracy said, “there are sounds and signs of hope nearly everywhere in Joplin this Memorial Day. Their spirit is still alive, even if it is a little tattered. Of course, as of this morning, there are still more than 40 people missing. So for many families in Joplin, there is no thought yet of moving on.”

    Tracy noted that one of the fatalities last Sunday was 37-year-old Jay Petty, who was an U.S. Army Ranger for two years, in Somalia.

    “He had this dedication,” Petty’s finance, Lisa Hartman, told CBS News through ears. “I mean, he never stopped. It was — it was like he was always on a mission.”

  4. President Barack Obama hugs a woman who lost a loved one, during the memorial service for victims of the tornado in Joplin, Missouri, May 29, 2011.

  5. President Barack Obama delivers remarks at a memorial in honor of the victims of the devastation from a F5 tornado on May 22nd in Joplin, Missouri, May 29, 2011.

  6. President Obama’s motorcade to the Joplin Missouri Memorial service.

  7. Ametia says:

  8. Ametia says:

  9. Ametia says:

    Continued prayers to the families of Joplin. May the Blessings Be!

  10. US President Barack Obama walks off Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base May 29, 2011 in Maryland. President Obama traveled to Joplin, Missouri to survey tornado damage in what has become the deadliest year for tornadoes since 1953.

  11. At memorial service, Obama says Joplin shows world how to come together in tragedy

    JOPLIN, Mo. — President Barack Obama says survivors of Missouri’s killer tornado in Joplin are showing the world how to come together, and he is pledging that the nation, as he put it, “will be with you every step of the way.”

    Obama spoke at a memorial service for victims on Sunday. He says it’s impossible to know when or why such devastation strikes. But he is praising neighbors for helping each other at great risk to themselves. He says there are heroes “around us all the time.”

    Obama is visiting survivors and the bereaved from the deadliest tornado in decades, which tore through Joplin a week ago, leaving more than 120 dead and hundreds more injured. At least 40 remain unaccounted for, and the damage is massive.

  12. DiscipleofChrist says:

    obama hasn’t and doesn’t heal anyone…Jesus Christ does……

    • Who said President Obama has the power to heal? No one did. We thanked him for his comforting words. We know Jesus has the power to heal. We’re not in the dark.

    • Aquagranny911 says:

      “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted”

      Jesus spoke to the disciples and the people. He gave them true lessons in how they should conduct their lives. Comforting the grieving should be something any Christian would be willing to do of both heart and will.

      I found your comment not in keeping with the real teachings of Jesus.

    • Sophie Amrain says:

      Way to pick unnecessary fights! Obama spoke comforting words which may help in the process of healing. Nobody claimed he was a miracle healer.

      And, btw, Jesus Christs miracle healings are uncorroborated, all of them. Might be sheer propaganda for all we know.

    • Ametia says:

      By Krissah Thompson, Published: May 29
      JOPLIN, Mo. — The survivors of the monster tornado that ravaged this small city gathered to grieve their losses, as President Obama called on them to remember the stories of “strength and courage” that emerged from the storm.

      Exactly one week ago, a deadly twister of historic proportions ravaged Joplin, leaving only walls at the high school, stripping pews out of a Baptist church and tossing homes out of their neighborhoods. More than 130 people died, many are still missing and hundreds are homeless.


      The auditorium held 1,900 people, but many in this deeply conservative city opted not to come.

      Pat Harbottle is still dazed after losing the home she shared with her husband, Jim. She bears an apple-size bruise on her right arm, and he a nick on his forehead; they survived by crouching in a closet. She called Obama’s visit “minimal” in the scheme of things.

      “I don’t mean to be disrespectful,” she said. Her eyes filled with tears as she looked at her son, who had come from Chicago to check on his parents. “That means so much more.”

      There also were complaints that the president would tie up traffic and slow down the work of rebuilding.

      Still others in Joplin greeted Obama — who landed in this part of the Ozarks hours after returning from Europe — with “God Bless America” and “God Bless Joplin” signs. One home his motorcade passed had only part of a foundation and the base of the chimney, which was adorned with an American flag. Other pancaked homes had flags stuck into the ground.

      It’s good to read about the folks in these places that express the truth about the POTUS’ visit to the disaster areas. It is the reality and the balance of how folks think and feel.

      Remember this is a red state to them, but part of the United States to the POTUS.

  13. Residents of Joplin, Missouri, hold flags as U.S. President Barack Obama’s motorcade passes May 29, 2011. Obama travelled to Joplin, scene of last week’s disaster, to inspect the tornado damage and participate in a memorial service.

  14. Thank you, Mr. President for your comforting words!

    God bless the people of Joplin Missouri and God bless our President!

  15. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds…
    Psalm 147:3

  16. God IS Good All The Time & All The Time God Is Good!

  17. Aquagranny911 says:


    Bless our Prez and bless the people of Joplin who have to lay to rest their own precious blood lost to nature. When PBO came here to us in AZ after the shootings in Tucson we we were comforted in our grief and horror. I pray that the people of Joplin will feel some of what we felt here. My heart to all those hearts grieving there today.

  18. Sympathy & Prayers to the victims families during this horrific time of great loss! May God give them everlasting consolation and good hope through grace.

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