WASHINGTON: President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday led a national memorial observance on the eve of his inauguration to honor the 400,000 Americans who have died from COVID-19 during the 11 months since the novel coronavirus claimed its first US victim.
The sundown commemoration came just hours before President Donald Trump was due to leave the White House and hand over a country in crisis. The ceremony, spearheaded by Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris from the base of the Lincoln Memorial, marked the federal government`s first official nod to the staggering death toll from the pandemic.
“We must remember. It`s hard sometimes to remember, but that`s how we heal. It`s important to do that as a nation,” Biden said in brief remarks to kick off a tribute that was to include observances in cities across the country.
As darkness fell over the nation`s capital, 400 electric lamps lining the sides of the Reflecting Pool were illuminated to honor the 400,000 lives lost, followed by gospel singer Yolanda Adams` performance of the song “Hallelujah,” then a moment of silence in memory of the COVID-19 dead.
“Though we may be physically separated, we the American people are united…