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Biden and Harris Honor Lives Lost to COVID-19

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Good leaders know that solidarity is the core of a nation’s strength. When the people suffer loss, those in power should suffer alongside them. It’s that show of compassion and humanity that builds bridges and trust. Hours before Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were set to be sworn in, the next president and vice president of the United States stepped up to mourn the tragic loss of more than 400,000 Americans.

It was a stunning and somber scene as Biden and Harris, and their spouses, stood quietly at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in a “national moment of remembrance” for those lost to COVID-19. Four hundred lanterns were lit alongside the water at dusk, each representing more than 1,000 people who lost their fight against the deadly virus in the course of less than one year.

On the eve of their inauguration, future President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris honor the more than 400,000 lives lost to COVID-19 at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021. (Photo courtesy of C-SPAN)

The Biden-Harris inaugural committee organized the event as a moment of “collective mourning” and asked that people light candles in their windows as a way to participate from the safety of their own homes. It was the first time since the pandemic struck that the magnitude of loss was recognized on a large scale.

Harris said Tuesday:

“We gather tonight, a nation in mourning, to pay tribute to lives we have lost, a grandmother or grandfather who is our whole world, a parent, partner, sibling or friend who we still cannot accept is no longer here, and for many months we have grieved by ourselves. Tonight, we grieve and begin healing together.”

At the risk of sounding trite, the memorial helped fill a void left by Trump’s refusal to acknowledge pain the country feels by the immense loss of life under his watch. 

In numerous ways, Biden and Harris have already shouldered burdens Trump has paid little attention to. In one sad and beautiful moment on the eve of their inauguration, they told their fellow citizens that each life mattered, that each person lost is worth remembering, that they are willing to lead through both the good and the bad.

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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.