President Barack Obama, center, is introduced at the Joplin High School commencement ceremony, Monday, May 21, 2012, at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, Mo. Also also on stage with Obama are from left to right, Assistant Superintendent Angie Besendorfer, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, and Superintendent C.J. Huff. [auth] (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — President Barack Obama says the graduating seniors of a Missouri town devastated by deadly tornadoes are a “source of inspiration” to him and the nation.
Obama says the story of Joplin, Mo., is one of a community coming together in response to tragedy.
The president was speaking on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the tornado that killed 161 people. Joplin High School was destroyed and the students spent their senior year taking classes in a converted department store.
Obama says the graduating class can use it as a lesson that, in his words, “we can define our own lives not by what happens to us, but by how we respond.”
Obama says that in the town of 50,000 people, nearly 50,000 more came to help after the tornado.