Joplin Walk of Unity offers healing, hope

Participants in Joplin’s Walk of Unity walk hand-in-hand Tuesday along the 3.7-mile path the May 22, 2011, tornado took.

Participants in Joplin’s Walk of Unity walk hand-in-hand Tuesday along the 3.7-mile path the May 22, 2011, tornado took. Anne E. Kettenbrink

JOPLIN, Mo. — There is a scar. A long, dark scar, somewhat healed over, but still red with pain, still smooth with newness. The tornado left that scar, miles long and nearly a mile wide at some points.

As a scar heals, the hand is drawn to it, to run along it gently, to remember how it happened, to try to take away the pain and help it heal.

That is what the community of Joplin came together to do Tuesday, the first anniversary of the EF5 tornado that hit with little warning May 22, 2011. Thousands of residents, volunteers, community leaders and supporters gathered to walk the scar, to see the damage and the progress. They walked to remember those lost, to see firsthand the rebuilding, to gain some closure after a tough year.

I walked because I am a former resident. I lived in Joplin for 5 years; it’s the only place I have lived away from Mid-Missouri for more than a few months.

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