Cities and Counties Honor Lives Lost to Covid-19

Lights surround the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, placed as a memorial to COVID-19 victims Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, in Washington, after President-elect Joe Biden spoke, with the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol in the background.

Lights surround the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, placed as a memorial to COVID-19 victims Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, in Washington, after President-elect Joe Biden spoke, with the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol in the background. Associated Press

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

Communities across the country participated Tuesday in a national Covid-19 memorial, while others have erected more permanent reminders of those who have died during the pandemic.

At 5:30 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, government buildings across the country began to light up amber in honor of people who died of Covid-19, part of a national memorial ceremony spearheaded by President-elect Joe Biden’s inaugural committee.

In Houston, they lit interstates, city hall and two airports. In New York, the Empire State Building shone amber; in Seattle, the Space Needle. In Clark County, Nevada, officials illuminated the rotunda at the government center with “up to 29 beams of light—one for every 100 people who have perished locally as a result of the pandemic," according to the county.

“To heal, we must remember. It’s hard sometimes to remember. But that’s how we heal,” Biden said at the reflecting pool at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. “It’s important to do that as a nation. That’s why we’re here today. Between sundown and dusk, let us shine the lights in the darkness along the sacred pool of reflection and remember all whom we lost.”

The event, billed as a “national moment of unity and remembrance,” was the first coast-to-coast memorial for victims of the pandemic. But it was preceded by dozens of other memorials in cities and counties across the country—some temporary, some virtual, all of them designed to give grieving people an outlet to celebrate and remember their loved ones.

In Chicago, for example, residents can submit photos and stories of their deceased loved ones to a virtual memorial wall hosted on the city’s website. The wall, unveiled in June, aims to “help Chicagoans cope with the sudden loss of their loved one to Covid-19, but also to celebrate their lives and memories,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement. “In light of the current situation, the way we mourn and celebrate one’s life needs to be reimagined.”

Other places have opted for physical memorials. At least three cities in Massachusetts—Lawrence, Plymouth and Newton—placed rows of empty chairs in front of city halls, each representing a resident who succumbed to the virus. 

The temporary memorials, modeled after a larger-scale installation near the White House this fall, “represent these lives lost, these Newtonians whose chairs will be forever empty at the holiday table,” Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller said in an update before Thanksgiving. “As we pass by, we will remember that each empty chair reflects a life lost … let’s honor each of these people by wearing masks, physically distancing, and doing our part, for each other, to keep our neighbors safe.”

Plans for permanent memorials are underway in several places, including Jersey City, New Jersey, where officials plan to turn a Superfund environmental cleanup site into a park that will include a grove of trees—one for every Covid-19 death—and a wall inscribed with the names of the deceased.

“Essentially, these people were robbed of their lives, and also the ability of their loved ones to properly say goodbye,” Mayor Steven Fulop said on Twitter. “Their names will be listed on a memorial. We said we would do something for this group specifically, and we are.”

Months earlier, in May, county officials in Westchester County, New York, unveiled a permanent memorial for Covid-19 victims, giving residents the opportunity to tie shiny purple ribbons to strings between two wooden poles topped with a shingled roof. 

The memorial, a joint project between the county’s parks department and its communications team, originally stood next to the Hudson River in a nature preserve, but was moved indoors in December for safekeeping during the winter. At a ceremony before the move, County Executive George Latimer stressed the importance of remembering that each ribbon represents a life.

“It’s sobering to think that a year ago...those 1,500 people were just as alive as we are today,” he said. “To see people who we love die in the context of a pandemic is, in some ways, harder than any other way, because what took their lives was not visible to us. It was everywhere, and it was nowhere, and it was still there. It’s still here.”

Kate Elizabeth Queram is a staff correspondent for Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

NEXT STORY: Women Hold Unprecedented Power in Vermont’s Statehouse. This Is How They’ll Lead.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.