President Joe Biden has marked the grim milestone of 500,000 coronavirus deaths in an address to the nation on Monday evening.
He acknowledged the pain of the country at a candlelit ceremony at the White House and offered words of healing and hope.
“Today we mark a truly grim heartbreaking milestone,” he said.
“That’s more Americans who’ve died in one year in this pandemic than in World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War combined. That’s more lives lost to this virus than any other nation on Earth,” Biden said.
“But as we acknowledge the scale of this mass death in America, we remember each person and the life they lived.”
“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,” the President said.
After Biden spoke, he, First Lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and second gentleman Doug Emhoff stepped outside for a remembrance ceremony.
The four bowed their heads while the ‘Amazing Grace’ was played in the background.
In Biden’s five-minute speech in the White House Cross Hall, he marked the 500,000 grim milestone with a combination of grief and hope.
“You’re going to be okay,” he expressed, speaking directly to those who have lost someone to the disease.
He also reminded people that the virus can affect anyone. “It’s not Democrats and Republicans who are dying from the virus,” Biden 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 continued.
The President also addressed the heartbreak many families felt when they were not allowed to say goodbye to their loved ones.
“So many of them took their final breath alone in America. As a nation, we can’t accept such a cruel thing,” he expressed.
“That’s what has been so cruel,” he added. “So many of the rituals that help us cope and help us honor those we loved had been available to use.”
Biden also encouraged the country to come together and 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.
“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.”
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