President Praises Joplin Grads

Related Story

JOPLIN - In front of a packed arena at Missouri Southern State University, Joplin High School principal Kerry Sachetta introduced Gov. Jay Nixon and President Barack Obama to the stage Monday night for graduation ceremonies. Both sat listening and applauded the few honored students who addressed the graduates and family.

Before the president took to the podium for his address, Joplin Superintendent C.J. Huff gave a very emotional speech he had trouble finishing, recalling the events following the deadly tornado one year ago. Huff got a standing ovation led by the students for his words. Huff then introduced Nixon, who commended the character of the community and the strength and fortitude of the students, and introduced the president.

President Obama acknowledged that a commencement speaker's job is to inspire, but told the student before him that it is the class of 2012 that inspires him. The president told the students they've learned at an age much too young that life can bring sorrow and take things from them. But he told them it's not what happened the day the tornado hit that defines the city, but what happened every day after it.

"You may leave Joplin," the president told them, "but it will never leave you. The people in this town are your family. We need god but we need each other. America only succeeds when we pitch in and pull together."

The president called attention to senior Quinton Anderson who lost both parents and was himself missing for three days with a fractured skull.  The president compared Anderson's recovery to that of the whole city. Anderson blushed in embarrassment at the attention, seated right before the president.