THE PRESIDENT: Every day, I obtain a small card in my pocket that I carry with me in my schedule. It reveals the variety of Individuals who’ve been contaminated by or died from COVID-19. In the present day, we mark a very grim, heartbreaking milestone: 500,071 useless. That’s extra Individuals who’ve died in a single yr on this pandemic than in World Struggle One, World Struggle Two, and the Vietnam Struggle mixed. That’s extra lives misplaced to this virus than some other nation on Earth.
However as we acknowledge the dimensions of this mass dying in America, we bear in mind every particular person and the life they lived. They’re folks we knew. They’re folks we really feel like we knew. Learn the obituaries and remembrances. The son who referred to as his mother each evening simply to examine in. The daddy’s daughter who lit up his world. The very best buddy who was at all times there. The nurse — the nurse and nurses — however the nurse who made her sufferers need to stay.
I used to be in — simply in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on the Pfizer vaccine manufacturing facility. There, I met a person after I walked in, whose father-in-law was dying of the virus. He was unhappy. I requested if I may name his father-in-law. He stated his father-in-law was too sick to talk. However then he stated, however may I pray for him — may I pray for him.
Everyone knows somebody — fellow Individuals who lived lives of wrestle, of goal, and of hope. Who talked late into the evening about their desires; who wore the uniform, born to serve; who beloved, prayed, and at all times provided a hand.
We regularly hear folks described as “odd Individuals.” There’s no such factor; there’s nothing odd about them. The folks we misplaced had been extraordinary. They spanned generations. Born in America. Immigrated to America. However similar to that, so lots of them took last breath alone in America.
As a nation, we are able to’t settle for such a merciless destiny. Whereas we have now been combating this pandemic for thus lengthy, we have now to withstand changing into numb to the sorrow. Now we have to withstand viewing every life as a sta- — as a statistic or a blur or on the information. And we should accomplish that to honor the useless, however equally vital, take care of the dwelling and people left behind.
For the family members left behind, I do know all too effectively — I do know what it’s prefer to not be there when it occurs. I do know what it’s like when you find yourself there, holding their arms. There’s a glance in your eye, and so they slip away. That black gap in your chest, you are feeling such as you’re being sucked into it. The survivor’s regret. The anger. The questions of religion in your soul.
For a few of you, it’s been a yr, a month, per week, a day, even an hour. And I do know that while you stare at that vacant chair across the kitchen desk, it brings all of it again, regardless of how way back it occurred, as if it simply occurred that second you checked out that vacant chair. The birthdays, the anniversaries, the vacations with out them. And the on a regular basis issues — the small issues, the tiny issues — that you simply miss essentially the most. That scent while you open the closet. That park you go by that you simply used to walk in. That movie show the place you met. The morning espresso you shared collectively. The bend in his smile. The right pitch to her snort.
I acquired a letter from a daughter whose father died of COVID-19 on Easter Sunday final yr. She and her youngsters — his grandchildren — enter Lent this season, a season of reflection and renewal, with heavy hearts. Unable to correctly mourn, she requested me within the letter, “What was our loss amongst so many others?”
Nicely, that’s what has been so merciless. So most of the rituals that assist us cope, that assist us honor these we beloved, haven’t been accessible to us. The ultimate rites with household gathered round. The correct homegoing, showered with tales and love. Tribal leaders passing [with]out the ultimate traditions of sacred cultures on sacred lands.
As a nation, we can not and we should not let this go on. That’s why the day earlier than my inauguration, on the COVID-19 Memorial on the Reflecting Pool on the Nationwide Mall, I stated to heal — to heal, we should bear in mind. I do know it’s arduous. I promise you, I do know it’s arduous — I bear in mind. However that’s the way you heal: You must bear in mind. And it’s additionally vital to do this as a nation.
For individuals who have misplaced family members, that is what I do know: They’re by no means really gone. They’ll at all times be a part of your coronary heart. I do know this, as effectively — and it appears unbelievable, however I promise you: The day will come when the reminiscence of the beloved one you misplaced will convey a smile to your lips earlier than a tear to your eye. It’ll come. I promise you. My prayer for you although is that day will come sooner relatively than later. And that’s when you recognize you’re going to be okay — you’re going to be okay.
And for me, the best way by sorrow and grief is to seek out goal. I don’t know what number of of you might have misplaced somebody some time in the past and are questioning, “Is she or he pleased with me now? Is that this what they need me to do?” I do know that’s how I really feel. And we are able to discover goal — goal worthy of the lives they lived and worthy of the nation we love.
So immediately, I ask all Individuals to recollect: Bear in mind these we misplaced and those that are left behind.
However as we bear in mind — as all of us bear in mind, I additionally ask us to behave. To stay vigilant, to sa- — keep socially distanced, to masks up, get vaccinated when it’s your flip. We should finish the politics and misinformation that has divided households, communities, and the nation, and has price too many lives already. It’s not Democrats and Republicans who’re dying from the virus. It’s our fellow Individuals. It’s our neighbors and our mates — our moms, our fathers, our sons, our daughters, husbands, wives.
Now we have to combat this collectively, as one folks, as america of America. That’s the one method we’re going to beat this virus, I promise you. The one option to spare extra ache and extra loss — the one method these millstones [sic] now not mark our nationwide mourning — these milestones, I ought to say — now not mark our nationwide mourning. Let this not be a narrative of how far we fell, however of how far we climbed again up. We will do that.
For on this yr of profound loss, we have now seen profound braveness from all of you on the frontlines. I do know the stress, the trauma, the grief you carry. However you give us hope. You retain us going. You remind us that we do handle our personal. That we go away no one behind. And that whereas we have now been humbled, we have now by no means given up. We’re America. We will and can do that.
In just some minutes, Jill and I, Kamala and Doug, will maintain a second of silence right here within the White Home — the Individuals’s Home, your own home. We ask you to hitch us to recollect, so we are able to heal; to seek out goal within the work forward; to point out that there’s gentle within the darkness.
This nation will smile once more. This nation will know sunny days once more. This nation will know pleasure once more. And as we do, we’ll bear in mind every particular person we’ve misplaced, the lives they lived, the family members they left behind. We are going to get by this, I promise you. However my coronary heart aches for you — these of you who’re going by it proper now.
Might God bless you all, notably those that have misplaced somebody. God bless you.