President Biden, pictured at the White House on February 16, will deliver a speech Monday night to honor those who have died of COVID-19. Drew Angerer / Getty Images hide subtitles
Drew Angerer / Getty Images
Drew Angerer / Getty Images
“In order to heal, we have to remember. Sometimes it is difficult to remember.”
For example, then-elected President Joe Biden began a brief remark on January 19 in a short, simple ceremony on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in honor of the 400,000 Americans who had died of COVID-19.
A month and three days later, another 100,000 Americans have died from the pandemic. Once again, Biden, Vice President Harris and their spouses will gather at sunset to mark a somber milestone.
Monday evening they will remember the dead from the pandemic in the south portico of the White House.
Watch the ceremony live starting at 6 p.m. ET.
Notably, Biden’s inauguration ceremony marked the country’s first national collective moment of grief for a pandemic that changed lives around the world, plunged the economy into recession, and at that moment killed half a million people in the US
Biden said in his remarks that day: “How we heal. It is important to do that as a nation.”
With another ceremony in honor of the dead, Biden makes yet another attempt to urge the country to pause and at least mentally gather to take stock of the ongoing tragedy. He also orders Flags on federal properties are to be hoisted for five days with half the workforce.
Biden’s first wife and daughter were killed in a car accident weeks before he was sworn in as a U.S. Senator. While he was Vice President, his son Beau, whom Biden had often referred to as the person who would take on the cloak of political leadership for the family, died of brain cancer. During his career, Biden has used these experiences to empathize with people suffering from personal loss.
“I think I know what you are feeling. You feel like you are being sucked into a black hole in the center of your chest,” Biden said during a video message in May when the US passed the then unfathomable milestone of 100,000 COVID- Deaths. “It’s choking. Your heart is broken. Right now there is nothing but a feeling of emptiness.”
As bleak as the latest milestone of half a million deaths is, it comes at a time of comparative hope: new coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths are on the decline. The vaccination of millions of Americans – and the federal government’s purchase of hundreds of millions of additional doses – has pointed to an endpoint that could come sooner rather than later. But experts beware Progress is fragile.
Still, the equivalent of the population of a major American city has died from a pandemic that lasted just over a year. And no matter how quickly the US can get herd immunity through vaccination, experts estimate that thousands more will die.