Photo Essay: Thousands gather for Walk of Unity in Joplin

Thousands of people took part in the Walk of Unity in Joplin, Mo., on May 22, 2012, to commemorate those lost and to celebrate recovery efforts after the tornado that hit the city exactly one year earlier.

A woman holds up a handwritten sign expressing unity of the Joplin community at a staging area near 17th and Rangeline in Joplin, May 22, 2012.
Hundreds of people descend down 17th Avenue past Rangeline Road as the Walk of Unity kicks off. People joined from multiple states and multiple communities across Missouri to walk the route of the tornado.

A woman displays a sign in memory of her father as she walks with friends down 17th Street toward a residential neighborhood.
Two women whose homes were destroyed in the May 22, 2011 tornado wave to walkers as they stand on the porch of a brand-new home that was built just after Christmas.
Emotional reunion: Two women embrace after reuniting during the Walk of Unity in Joplin.
Three women share an embrace at a home on 17th Street as others walk up to say hello and talk during the Walk of Unity.
Americorps members walk in a group while flying Day of Unity flags as they pass rebuilt homes along 17th Street in Joplin.
A woman participating in the Walk of Unity high-fives a man standing along 17th Street in Joplin.
The group snakes its way from 17th Street and turns south.
A woman waves an American flag as walkers pass by on 20th Avenue in Joplin.
Two people sit and wave flags on their property along 20th Avenue. They opted not to rebuild after the tornado, instead moving elsewhere, but said they wanted to wave to and greet those walking by as a gesture of appreciation.
A woman who had been walking in the Day of Unity embraces a woman whose eyes welled up with tears as groups walked by along 20th Avenue.
A large group of walkers makes a southward turn from 20th Street, headed toward 26th.
Members of the Joplin Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints lined up and high-fived walkers as they prepared to hoist the steeple on their brand-new church building.
Walkers move past several chalk drawings on the path toward the former Joplin High School property, including a drawing that read "Strong in Christ."
Joplin High School students join members of the community in breaking ground on the soon-to-be-built Joplin High School in an event held during the Walk of Unity.
A woman takes a photograph of a stenciled art drawing on a wall reading "Never give up hope."
Shirts worn by Mercy employees during the Walk of Unity bore an oft-quoted Scripture from 2 Corinthians 4.
A woman walks by Cunningham Park, the Walk of Unity's final destination, holding up a handwritten sign.
A man walks by Cunningham Park holding a large American flag, shortly before reaching his final destination.