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As morning broke yesterday in Joplin, hundreds gathered to pay tribute to the 161 people who lost their lives in last year’s deadly EF-5 tornado, along with the skilled first responders—including medical staff and rescue workers—who treated more than 500 injured and carried out 22 life-saving surgeries.  

The service took place at Freeman Hospital West, with Freeman CEO Paula Baker setting the tone of “ordinary people performing extraordinary deeds.” First and foremost, she was referring to the tireless efforts of Freeman Hospital employees who postponed their own grief in order to assist the injured, who began arriving by the truckload after the multi-vortex twister all but demolished St. John’s Medical Center.

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