Aaron DuRall

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon speaks during a memorial service to honor the 6th mensiversary of the May 22 tornado on the afternoon of Nov. 22. Victims and volunteers were honored throughout the service.

Bekah Collins


Citizens of Joplin gathered in Cunningham Park Tuesday, Nov. 22 to commemorate six months since a deadly tornado devastated the town.  

Families and friends of tornado victims were able to witness the dedication of 161 trees planted in the park to honor the 161 citizens who lost their lives. 

The memorial was held at a time when people gather to give thanks and share each other’s company. 

At the memorial, there was an overwhelming sense of community gathering and intimacy, as prayers were made for the healing and recovery of citizens affected by the disaster. 

Patrick Tuttle, Director of Joplin Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the memorial was, “Not just about the tornado, it was about families coming together, remembering lives lost, and rebuilding the city of Joplin.” 

Cunningham Park, the site of the memorial, was recently reconstructed by Extreme Makeover: Home Edition who also built new houses in the area for citizens whose homes were lost in the tornado.  With improvements made to the park,

such as an added water feature, Joplin residents were able to see the park coming back to life. 

Tuttle felt the memorial was necessary to bring the community together. 

Karen Kostan, professor of psychology at Missouri Southern, believes that community gatherings are important in the healing process after life-changing events. 

She feels the memorial, “Gave people a chance to connect with others who have gone through similar situations. That’s the main reason support groups are so effective.”  

Kostan said it’s important to take time and focus on positive improvements after traumatic events. She said community memorials, “help people feel hopeful that things will soon return to normal, or better than normal.” 

The city is currently in the process of developing a committee that will oversee fundraising for future memorials.