May 4, 2004  - 1st Anniversary Remembrance Speech

Opening Ceremony

Remembering the Past
Craig Stokes, President, Franklin Community Council, Inc.

I’m Craig Stokes, President of the Franklin Community Council and we would like to welcome all of you today.   We appreciate your sharing this day with us as we Remember the Past and Look to the Future.

Over 100 years ago pioneers from many countries settled in this tiny community which came to be known as Franklin.    The post office established it’s presence on  October 27, 1908; the SNPJ lodge was formed on October 15, 1908; the first subdivision platted in Franklin was John Dollar's First Addition to Franklin which was platted February 18, 1909.  In 1910 Franklin was known as a village in Crawford County. It was a station on the Joplin & Pittsburg electric railroad.  It had a money order post office and was a trading center for this section of Crawford County.   The population in 1910 was 150.   In 1915 the population was 1,649.  The community was on it’s way to becoming a thriving, bustling early 20th century town. 

 In it’s early days it was a very active community. It boasted company stores, a theater, dance halls, bowling alley, 5 schools, churches, pool halls, several boarding houses, butchers, an ice cream parlor, garages, filling stations, auto wrecking service, barber shops, trolley and, of course, mining.      

Through time as the mining industry waned and many residents were forced to look for jobs the community dwindled in size.  However, the spirit and closeness of the community remains to this day.  

Franklin has remained a very close-knit community with a warm and friendly atmosphere. Too many times we take that for granted.    Remember how everyone idealizes the 1950s, when people knew their neighbors and the kids were home playing in yards. Then, everyone took care of each other's kids and helped each other out. People are nostalgic for that way of life which may now be found only in a few rural areas.  Franklin has retained that quality. 

It's the place where everybody knows your name.   Just like a family.

Like a family, this close-knit community gathered to grieve the loss of resident Josephine Maghe.   Remembering how much it hurts to lose someone helps us cherish those we have taken for granted

When we forget the past we lose the anchor that keeps us from drifting. 

We try to keep our history alive through monuments. We have monuments to various wars. We have museums that contain artifacts that tell the story of the past. We place monuments in cemeteries and study family genealogical records, all in an attempt to keep our "history" alive. We are gathered here to remember our history and the importance of maintaining this close knit community.    The families who continue to reside here are a living monument to the history of this community.  While the building are gone the spirit of the people remains. 

Remembering  the past reminds us of our blessings.   Isn't it a wonderful feeling to get out those old video tapes of the kids growing up? Isn't it a wonderful thing to page through a scrapbook or look at wedding pictures? Isn't it a precious thing to look through the photo albums and remember the people who have touched our lives and the events that enriched us? It's hard to look at those things and not be grateful for the blessings we've had.

We also need to remember the past because it spurs us on and keeps us focused.    It gives us the strength and courage to face adversity and to see that the tasks presented to us are accomplished.    It has inspired the countless volunteers who are working so hard to see that this community is rebuilt.

Some of our neighbors are young and just starting out. Some have children. Some are empty nesters. Some are retired. Each family has different skills to throw into the community pot.   Some know finances, some can cook and some are handy with tools. We each have our own lives but we’re part of a family of neighbors.

The past is evidenced by all who have gathered today to honor this community and it’s residents.   No matter where the future takes us we will always remember our past.

Closing Ceremony
Looking to the Future
Craig Stokes, President, Franklin Community Council, Inc.

Once again we’d like to thank you all for joining us in this celebration of “Remembering the Past” and “Looking to the Future”.   We would like to acknowledge all of the legislators, community leaders and volunteers, who have helped us along the way.  Everyone has been very supportive and although this is a political year every politician (whether in office or running for office) was in agreement that this was a day for remembering and looking to the future.   So rather than name each dignitary, volunteer or any of our special friends we will just say a big thank you to everyone.   All of the public figures were in complete agreement and chose not to mentioned by name which shows the integrity of the people who come from this rural area.  Those who could not attend sent their good wishes for success with our  continuing rebuilding process.  The mere presence of others speaks volumes for their support and caring for this community.
We would also like to thank the media for the excellent coverage we have received.  Without their help our task would have been much more difficult.  

We do feel it’s appropriate to welcome two very early residents of Franklin - Mary Podpechan Straus and Rose Ann Podpechan,  They are sisters who grew up in Franklin and can remember the community in it’s early days.  They traveled from Illinois to share this day with us and we are most grateful that they are able to be here.  

We would like to share our vision for the future with all of you.  

We see a bright future for Franklin.    Much effort has been put forth toward several projects that will have a big impact on the community.   New sewers, community hall, community park, new homes, new streets and much more.  

The quality of life we’d like to make possible for our children and grandchildren is evidenced by the hard work and dedication of the residents of Franklin.   Less than a week ago volunteers working arm in arm planted trees along Broadway.  The day began with a severe thunderstorm forecast and raindrops started falling at 7 am.   The volunteers began appearing.  The volunteers included long time residents as well as new citizens.  Young and old joined forces to start the rebirth of Franklin.  Suddenly the skies parted and the sun warmed our faces and our spirits.  As volunteers dug into the soil, the birds soared overhead watching  their new home being established.

The camaraderie was evident as everyone who participated had a smile on their face.  Laughter was plentiful.  It reminded us of “the good old days” - “neighbor helping neighbor”  “all working together for the good of the community”.   This gives us all hope for a bright future. 

Within the next two weeks  a major cleanup campaign will begin.    Many volunteers are ready to tackle this project and we hope to be joined by many more.  Many hands will make the job move quickly. 

We can only imagine what Franklin will look like in a decade and the challenges that the community will face.   However, the future appears bright for today there is satisfaction in knowing this day of remembrance and reflection was a fitting tribute to Josephine Maghe and all those who suffered such tremendous losses.

It has been said that “What is good endures“ and Franklin will endure.  

We see many glimmers of hope from outside and within.   The surrounding communities as well as the national and international community have sent letters and cards showing that we are all “neighbors”.   There is good cause for hope.   We believe the residents of Franklin - along with our friends and neighbors - will be instrumental in returning  Franklin to it’s former condition. 
As a tribute to the 217 families who resided in Franklin on May 4, 2003 we are releasing 217 balloons as our closing ceremony.   We’ll take a few moments to distribute the balloons. Please hold onto your balloon until the signal is given to release them.

We look to a brighter future for Franklin.  As we watch the balloons disappear out of site,  we can feel the balloons lifting our spirits.   The spirit is still alive, still growing, still branching out.  It means we are on solid ground.  The spirit of Franklin remains!!!

1st Anniversary