President Joe Biden marked the grim milestone of 500,000 lives lost to the Covid-19 pandemic in a brief but poignant address to the nation on Monday evening, drawing on his own personal tragedies as a rhetorical balm for a struggling country still against the deadly disease.
“That’s more Americans who died in a year in this pandemic than in WWI, WWII and the Vietnam War combined. That’s more lives lost from this virus than any other nation on Earth, ”Biden said. “But as we recognize the magnitude of this massive death in America, we remember each person and the life they lived.”
The president said he kept a card in his pocket every day with the tally of those who died from Covid-19.
“The people we lost were amazing,” Biden said. “We must resist becoming numb with pain.”
While Biden pointed to the hundreds of thousands of people who perished, he also urged Americans to remember those who are still in shock at having lost loved ones.
Biden, who often relies on his personal losses to cope with national tragedies, compared their grief to what he experienced after the deaths of his first wife and baby daughter, as well as his eldest son Beau.
“I know what it’s like not to be there when it happens,” he said. “I know what it’s like when you’re there, holding your hands, looking into their eyes as they walk away.”
“This is how you heal, you have to remember. The day will come when the memory of the loved one you lost will bring a smile to your lips before a tear to your eyes, ”he added, saying that“ for me the path through sorrow and sorrow must find a purpose.
New cases of Covid-19 continued to fall after peaking after the holidays. The United States has reported more than 100,000 new cases daily in just one of the past 14 days, a month after regularly counting more than 200,000 new cases, according to data from NBC News. Daily deaths are also declining, but more slowly, still steadily eclipsing 2,000.
Before concluding his speech, Biden joined the First Lady, Vice President Kamala Harris and the Second Gentleman for a ceremony of one minute of silence. They were surrounded by 500 candles, each representing 1,000 lives lost to Covid-19. As the President bowed his head, the Marine Band’s brass ensemble played Amazing Grace. After the music was over, Biden signed himself and the officials returned to the White House.
Biden closed his remarks by urging Americans to work together to defeat the virus by following public health guidelines such as social distancing and wearing masks.
“We have to end the politics and the misinformation that divides families, communities in this country,” Biden said. This virus does not target Democrats or Republicans, he added, but all of our fellow Americans.
“That it’s not a story of how far we’ve fallen, but how far we’ve come back,” Biden said.