President Barack Obama joined Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon in Joplin at a memorial service for the community to comfort the people of of the city, saying the efforts of people who gave their lives to save others in the midst of the devastating tornado showed the world what it means to love thy neighbor.
Obama's participation in the memorial service came nearly a week after last week's tornado, which killed 142 people and destroyed thousands of buildings. He told people of the city that the federal government would support and help rebuild the city.
This is a national tragedy and that means there will be a national response, Obama said at a press conference.
But what I've been telling every family that I've met here is we're going to be here long after the cameras leave. We are not going to stop until Joplin is fully back on its feet, Obama said.
Obama said it had been incredible to see volunteers come from as a far away as Texas, including people such as firefighters and ordinary citizens.
It's an example of what the American Spirit is all about. And that gives us a lot of encouragement at a time when obviously people are going through a lot of hardship.
Obama urged that people made contributions to the American Red Cross or other charitable groups active in Joplin.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon also delivered remarks at a community memorial service on Sunday.
We can, and we will, heal. We've already begun. Together, we can, and we will, rebuild - upon a granite foundation of faith...By God's grace, we will restore this community. And by God's grace we will renew our souls.
In his remarks Nixon used the biblical parable of the Good Samaritan to show how compassion is show through action, as those who rushed to reach thte wounded and dying, those watching over the remains of homes and those passing out basic supplies and food.
As the governor said, you have shown the world what it means to love thy neighbor, Obama said. You've banded together. You've come to each other's aid. You've demonstrated a simple truth: that amid heartbreak and tragedy, no one is a stranger. Everybody is a brother. Everybody is a sister. (Applause.) We can all love one another.
And in the face of winds that showed no mercy, no regard for human life, that did not discriminate by race or faith or background, it was ordinary people, swiftly tested, who said, I'm willing to die right now so that someone else might live.
Obama recounted the story of a husband who threw himself over his wife as their house was torn apart. In another case on Joplin father and worker helped move people to safety.
Over and over again, he went back for others, until a wall came down on top of him. In one case Obama said a worker at a pizza parlor ushered customers into a freezer and attempted to hold the door closed as long as possible until he was pulled away by the incredible force of the storm. He died saving more than a dozen people in that freezer.
You see, there are heroes all around us, all the time, Obama said.
What we do know is that in a split-second moment where there's little time for internal reflection or debate, the actions of these individuals were driven by love -- love for a family member, love for a friend, or just love for a fellow human being, he added.
What we do know is that in a split-second moment where there's little time for internal reflection or debate, the actions of these individuals were driven by love -- love for a family member, love for a friend, or just love for a fellow human being, Obama said.