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Joplin Tornado Second Anniversary Ceremony

Location: Unknown

Good evening. Thank you, Mayor, Secretary Napolitano and all the familiar faces I see here today.

Two years ago I described the folks here in Joplin as 'the toughest people on God's green earth."

It was true. We saw it everywhere we looked. That tenacity that echoed throughout this community.

We saw it in the moments and days after the storm, as we worked to clear debris. We saw it in a school district that declared it would open on time - and by golly they did. We saw it as you began to rebuild and repair your homes and businesses. We saw it everywhere.

That strength. That toughness. That courage to push ahead.

Two days ago, after seeing the devastating destruction in Oklahoma, I believe that you are something else too, something the people of Moore need right now.

A word we all remember seeing, in front of the old high school, made from duct tape: hope.

Joplin is many things, and right now I believe you are a beacon of Hope. A sign that in times of great need, we are not alone. A sign that wounds do heal, though sometimes they still hurt. That life changes, but it goes on.

And as it does, the power of hope lifts our hearts and compels us forward. That when there are stories of great tragedy . . . there are also stories of heroes, and a reminder that they live in our midst every day. They run into fires. They keep our streets safe. They teach our kids.

The people of Oklahoma will experience the embrace of an entire nation - an entire world - because when disaster strikes, we're all in this together. And then little by little, day by day, the people of Moore will begin to rebuild. Schools will open. Trees will be planted and homes will return.

It is a long and daunting path. But the light of Joplin, and the hope you instill in people, can help illuminate the way.

It's been two years, but when we see the progress that you have made. it seems much, much longer than that... But when we think of those we lost, it seems like it was only yesterday.

Time can be that way. It can move fast and slow - and never at the pace you want it to.

The only thing certain is that each moment is precious. Joplin reminds us of that. It reminds us to appreciate the little things a little more. Especially now, Joplin reminds us that every sunrise is a blessing. You give us strength, inspiration . . . Joplin, you give us Hope.

The work is not done, but neither are we. We will carry on. We will move forward.

We will carry that light and hold it high so that anywhere people are hurt, anytime a town feels lost, they can look to Joplin. And they can find the strength needed to be the toughest people on God's green earth.

Thank you.

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