THE AFRICA BAZAAR STAFF
January 19, 2021
On the eve of the fifty-nine U.S. Presidential Inaugural ceremony, and in a show of national unity, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris on Tuesday held a nationwide memorial service to pay tribute to the more than 400,000 Americans who have died due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The President-elect and the Vice-President-elect and their spouses–Dr. Jill Biden and Douglas Emhoff arrived in the nation’s Capital late afternoon and then traveled to the Lincoln Memorial at the National Mall for the ceremony.
Rows of white rectangular lanterns set on the ground to represent the dead, encircle the Reflecting Pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial monument. During the brief solemn ceremony, Biden gave a brief remark after the Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Wilton Gregory, the first African American Cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church said a prayer for the dead. A nurse from Michigan sang “Amazing Grace.”
“To heal, we must remember. It’s hard sometimes to remember but that’s how we heal. It’s important to do that as a nation, That’s why we are here today. Between sundown and dusk, let us shine the lights in the darkness along the sacred pool of reflection and remember all we lost,” Biden said in his remarks to the nation.
Following his remarks, gospel singer Yolanda Adams performed “Hallelujah,” concluding the ceremony just as the sun set and the lanterns were illuminated, casting luminous light on the darkened pool. The entire National Mall and buildings across the nation were also lit in unity.
The Lincoln Memorial, built to honor Abraham Lincoln, the 16th U.S. President, is an important landmark and a scared place that symbolizes Americanism and liberty for the nation. It has served as an important venue for many historic moments in the nation’s history, including the 1963 March on Washington in which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr delivered his famous, “I have a Dream” speech.
According to John Hopkins Hospital, more than 400,000 Americans have lost their lives to the pandemic and millions are currently infected with the virus since the World Health Organization first declared the coronavirus outbreak as a serious global health concern a year ago. More than two million people have died from COVID-19, globally and 96, 269,168 are infected.
Tuesday’s memorial ceremony marks the first nationwide tribute for the victims and their families that acknowledged their lost and sufferings. The event also marks a reflective moment for the country and a call for unity as a new administration, the Biden-Harris administration is about to assume leadership of the nation from the outgoing Trump administration and begin a new era.
The Trump administration’s lackadaisical approach to curbing the virus in the early months of the outbreak has been blamed for the large number of deaths from COVID-19. More Americans have died during the COVID-19 pandemic within a short period of time than any other time or event in the nation’s history.
Other landmarks and all government building across the nation are also lit as part of the COVID-19 national tribute.
Earlier in the day, President-elect Biden received an emotional and heartened farewell ceremony from his home state, Delaware State’s Governor John Carney, attended by the Biden families and close friends. The ceremony took place at the Major Joseph R. “Beau” Biden III National Guard Reserve Center in New Castle, named after President-elect Biden’s late son, Beau Biden died from brain cancer in 2015.
In his farewell speech to President-elect Biden, Governor Carney remarked that he is “proud to be the governor of the state that gave the country” its 46 President.
“[Through his journey, Biden] has brought us with him with love and now he stands ready to pull this country out of this darkness and chaos and on to higher ground. I don’t envy the job ahead of you. Our country is lucky you’re even willing to do it. But you know how much is at stake and we in Delaware knows how much you love our country. You are what this country needs, you are what we all need. And so as you head down to Washington, know that you have the thoughts and prayers of a grateful and incredibly proud state of Delaware. May the wind be always at you back,” Carney said.
Carney’s speech to Biden noted the enormous job ahead for Biden of uniting a polarized nation in the midst of a health pandemic, racial and wealth inequalities, and economic downturn. Biden will assume presidency on Wednesday following the inaugural ceremony.
The President-elect has said he and his administration plan to get to work right away and he plans to sign executive orders that will ensure Americans health safety, boost vaccines distributions, and reestablish some of U.S. international alliances.