Spirit Tree Falls In Joplin

 It has been nearly seven years since the Spirit Tree first grew to represent hope for the city of Joplin after the devastating tornado. Sadly, the tree that was a symbol for many has now fallen. Located near the former Dillons grocery store in downtown Joplin, the tree was painted in bright colors by various artists (who also helped paint the “Butterfly Effect” mural at 15th and Main Street) as a memorial to remember what people overcame after the tornado. The Spirit Tree was selected because it represented an object that stood tall in a time of misfortune that affected many lives in Joplin.

 Though the Spirit Tree is no longer standing, many Joplin residents are very determined to make sure that this city-wide symbol of hope is never forgotten. Various ideas have been suggested for preserving the memory of the tree:  a sculpture of the tree, a commemorative plaque, or even an idea to keep part of the original tree out in an airtight glass container for the public to view at any time.

 The Spirit Tree is viewed widely as a symbol of post-tornado Joplin. Some people have compared it as similar to seeing bare hands that were trying to reach out of the rubble, a powerful image for many to witness. Various residents have mentioned that the tree has been showing signs of heavy deterioration as the years have passed. The tree had already been dead for quite some time, and eventually the harsh elements of the weather have led to its unfortunate demise. In efforts to preserve the memory of the Spirit Tree, there is talk of a possible committee being formed to explore options of a memorial to honor its legacy and the message it portrayed, of people who came together after a tragedy to make their part of the world a better place again.