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President Obama addresses a crowd in Joplin during a memorial service at Missouri Southern State University's Taylor Performing Arts Center.Click here for more photos.
President Obama addresses a crowd in Joplin during a memorial service at Missouri Southern State University's Taylor Performing Arts Center.

Click here for more photos.

Obama visits Joplin disaster area

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One week after an EF-5 tornado ripped through Joplin, and on a weekend in which many were celebrating Memorial Day, the city welcomed the country's commander In chief.

Thousands of Joplin-area residents lined the city streets Sunday afternoon to welcome President Obama to town.

Obama landed at Joplin Regional Airport about noon and immediately traveled by motorcade to the path of the tornado. He spent much of the afternoon making his way along the path of destruction, visiting with workers still clearing debris and offering condolences to those who had lost loved ones and their homes.

Following his tour, Obama participated in a memorial service held at Missouri Southern State University's Taylor Performing Arts Center. Thousands of people lined Newman Road along the entrance of MSSU to welcome Obama.

Members of the Joplin Ministerial Alliance led the memorial service. Randy Gariss, preaching minister at College Heights Christian Church, moderated the service, while Aaron Brown, senior minister of St. Paul's United Methodist Church - which suffered damage from the tornado - delivered the message. Gov. Jay Nixon followed Brown's message with some words of encouragement.

"The storm brought forth a spirit of resilience the likes of which we have never seen," Nixon said. "In these days and weeks ahead, God is saying to us, 'Show Me, Show Me.' The people of Missouri were born for this mission. Once we set our resolve, no storm, no flood and no fire can turn us from our task. This tragedy has changed us forever, and this community will never be the same. But we can and we will heal."

President Obama followed Nixon's remarks with more words for those grieving lost loved ones. He said that while he was abroad throughout the week, many of those foreign dignitaries approached him with wonder concering the spirit of the people of the tri-state area.

"We can't know why we're tested, but we're not powerless in the face of adversity," he said. "How we respond is within our control. Joplin has taught the world that. The world has seen how Joplin has responded, and you have demonstrated a simple truth: that amid tragedy, no one is a stranger."

Obama said he recognizes the vast effort it will take to rebuild the town. He said that as he walked the Joplin disaster area, he couldn't keep at bay the thoughts of where to begin.

"After the shock has worn off, you might feel alone," he said. "I have no doubt in my mind what the people of this community can do. I have no doubt in my mind that Joplin will rebuild, and we will be with you every step of the way. We're not going anywhere. America will be there until Joplin is restored and this community is back on its feet."[[In-content Ad]]

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