Joe Biden remembers the 500,000 COVID dead at the White House

Joe Biden remembers the 500,000 COVID dead at the White House

President Joe Biden acknowledged the pain of the nation on Monday as the United States marked more than 500,000 deaths from the coronavirus at a candlelit ceremony at the White House, but he also offered words of hope and healing.
Joe Biden remembers the 500,000 COVID dead at the White House

‘Today we mark a truly grim heart breaking milestone,’ he said in a speech to the nation before praying in silent on the South Portico of the White House where 500 candles were lit to symbolize the 500,000 dead.

‘We often hear people described as ordinary Americans. There’s no such thing. There was nothing ordinary about them. The people we lost were extraordinary,’ he declared.

Joe Biden remembers the 500,000 COVID dead at the White House

No other county has had so many deaths from the virus: the U.S. accounts for 20 percent of the nearly 2.5 million coronavirus deaths globally.

The United States marked the grim milestone with flags lowered to half staff at the White House, the Capitol and federal buildings around the country.

Joe Biden remembers the 500,000 COVID dead at the White House

In Washington D.C., the bells of the National Cathedral tolled 500 times for every 1,000 Americans who have died from COVID.

After the president spoke, he, Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff stepped outside to the South Portico of the White House for a remembrance ceremony. Surrounded by candles as the sun set, the four bowed their heads as the Marine Band played ‘Amazing Grace.’

Joe Biden remembers the 500,000 COVID dead at the White House

Biden, in his short five minute speech in the White House Cross Hall, marked the half-million milestone with a combination of hope and grief.

‘You’re going to be okay,’ he said, speaking directly to those who have lost someone to COVID.

He reminded Americans that the virus can affect anyone. ‘It’s not Democrats and Republicans who are dying from the virus,’ he said.

‘It’s our fellow Americans. It’s our neighbors, our friends, our mothers our fathers our sons our daughters, husbands, wives, we have to fight this together as one people as the United States of America,’ he said.

He addressed the heartbreak that so many families felt at not being able to say goodbye to their loved ones, noting the cruelty that comes with death in a pandemic.

‘So many of them took their final breath alone in America,’ he said. ‘As a nation, we can’t accept such a cruel thing.’

‘That’s what has been so cruel,’ he said. ‘So many of the rituals that help us cope and help us honor those we loved had been available to us.’

Joe Biden remembers the 500,000 COVID dead at the White House

Biden said he carries a card in his pocket that contains his daily schedule and the number of infections and deaths from the COVID pandemic.

‘Those who have lost loved ones. This is what I know. They’re never truly gone. They’ll always be part of your heart,’ he said.

But even as he spoke of grief he encouraged the country to come together to heal from the pandemic.

‘Let this not be a story of how far we fell, but how far we climb back up,’ he said.

‘Remember so we can heal. To find purpose in the work ahead. To show that there is light in the darkness. This nation will smile again,’ he said.

‘This nation will know sunny days again. This nation will know joy again. And as we do, we’ll remember each person we’ve lost. The lives they lived.

‘The loved ones that were there left behind. We will get through this. I promise you. My heart aches for you, those of you who are going to it right now. God bless you all. Particularly those who’ve lost someone,’ he said.