The Miracle of the Human Spirit

Five years ago, our lives changed. Five years ago, it was the worst night for the lives of hundreds, thousands of people after a line of storms ripped their way across south west Missouri. Five years ago, an EF-5 tornado left behind a wake of devastation a mile wide through the heart of Joplin.

Hundreds were missing. Thousands were left homeless. And something amazing happened.

In those first moments, before the volunteers poured in, even before members of AmeriCorps piled into trucks and started to drive across the state from St Louis in the dead of night, the miracle of the human spirit happened.

We always hear about the thousands of volunteers that poured in to assist. The hundreds of EMTs and Firefighters that flooded into the debris field to conduct Search and Rescue operations. But before all of them arrived, before people were even able to get up onto their feet, someone made the choice to help their neighbor.

Thousands of people, ordinary folk like you and me, made the choice to become part of that miracle. One by one, stories came flooding in of how on that fateful night, neighbors banded together to save one another. In the darkness, they became the light for one another.

If there were any heroes that night, they went unnoticed because they were part of the community.

There is a saying in the world of disaster that all disasters start and end locally. They may have assistance from surrounding communities, states, or even nationally, but they will remain part of the community where they started.

The miracle of the human spirit, the saying that defined the volunteer response to the devastation and rebuilding in Joplin, was defined by the people of that community, individuals who helped one another on the worst day of their lives.

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And even now, five years later, we still remember. And I know that I would not have made a difference if it were not for the community in which we served. The volunteers were never the heroes. We were never meant to be heroes.

The heroes were already there.

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