In a moving address at the Joplin memorial service, Obama told the crowd that even such a tragedy as the recent tornadoes that have killed at least 139 people in the community "does not mean we are powerless in the face of adversity. How we live in the aftermath of tragedy and heartache, that's within our control. It's within these moments we often see a glimpse of what makes life worth living in the first place."
"Joplin has not just taught Missouri, not just America, but the world," Obama added. "I was overseas and had world leaders come up to me and say 'let the people of Joplin know we are with them,' because the world saw how Joplin responded." The crowd gathered at the campus of Missouri Southern State University cheered uproariously at this.
“We will be with you every step of the way. We will be with you every step of the way until Joplin is restored and this community is back on its feet. We are not going anywhere!" Obama declared in ringing tones. “That is not just my promise. It is America’s promise.” His address ended with tears and a standing ovation.
Earlier, the president visited with survivors and family of the storm and flew over the debris field in Air Force One, the New York Times reports. “Obviously, the damage here speaks for itself,” Obama said, according to Politico. “Obviously, it is going to take years to build back.”
To put into context the severity of natural disasters recently, this is the third time in recent weeks that Obama headed out to devastated community. He recently visited flood victims in Tennessee and the site of deadly tornadoes in Alabama. In Alabama, Obama famously said that "I've never seen devastation like this." But now he said that Joplin is “just as heartbreaking and in some ways, even more devastating.”
Video of his speech is below, courtesy of Mediaite.