One Year Later

Obama to Joplin: You’re the Inspiration


US President Barack Obama delivers the commencement address at Joplin High School on May 21, 2012 in Joplin, Missouri. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages)

It's quite an honor to have the president of the United States speak at your graduation, an event the seniors at Joplin High School in Missouri won't soon forget. President Obama visited the school, which had to be demolished in the wake of a massive tornado that killed 161 people a year ago, and told the graduating class, "we can define our own lives not by what happens to us but by how we respond." Obama praised Joplin's community spirit and told the students "some of life's strongest bonds are the ones we forge when everything around us seems broken." Obama added, “The job of commencement speaker ... is to inspire. But as I look out at this class and across this city, what’s clear is that you’re the source of inspiration today.”