Dear Commons Community,
In a somber ceremony (see video above) at the Lincoln Memorial last evening, President-elect Joe Biden asked the nation to remember the 400,000 victims who died of coronavirus during this past year. He signaled that addressing the terrible toll of the pandemic would be at the very heart of his administration. Biden spoke his words as the sun set over the National Mall, casting a rosy glow in the twilight.
The President-elect told Americans he shared in their grief — with his own understanding deepened by the loss of his first wife and daughter in a car accident as a young man and the loss of his son Beau to cancer at the age of 46.
“It’s hard sometimes to remember, but that’s how we heal. It’s important to do that as a nation,” Biden said before the 400 lights were illuminated along the edges of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, marking the more than 400,000 Americans who have died from Covid-19.
He and his wife, Jill Biden, watched in silence, alongside Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, as the reflections of the lights glimmered in the water. Hundreds of towns, cities and communities across the country joined in the tribute, lighting up buildings from the Empire State Building in New York to the Space Needle in Seattle. Cardinal Wilton Gregory, the archbishop of Washington, delivered the invocation and gospel singer Yolanda Adams performed “Hallelujah” after Biden spoke.
Harris spoke briefly at the memorial, noting that “for many months, we have grieved by ourselves. Tonight, we grieve and begin healing together.”
“Though we may be physically separated, we, the American people, are united in spirit and my abiding hope, my abiding prayer, is that we emerge from this ordeal with a new wisdom: to cherish simple moments, to imagine new possibilities and to open our hearts just a little bit more to one another,” Harris said.