One Nation, Under God
The third week of January the United States passed two milestones. It was the one-year anniversary of the first identified case of Covid-19 in our country. And it was the week we surpassed 400,000 husbands, wives, parents, children, sisters and brothers who died from the disease.
We watched the number grow from a handful to more than four thousand each week, with the lingering feeling that it was just a number, ignored by many. An occasional person of note has been recognized on a news program. Friday evenings, Ozark Public Television features the lives of five individuals lost in their News Hour’s “Lives Well Lived” segment. But there was no national recognition that we had just surpassed the number of Americans lost during the combined four years of World War Two.
And then on the eve of their inauguration, Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris held a memorial service at the Lincoln Memorial to soothe a grieving nation. With four hundred lights, one for each thousand souls lost, reflecting in the pool behind them, they recognized our pain.
Both offered words of comfort. Biden: “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.” Harris: “For many months, we have grieved by ourselves. Tonight, we grieve and begin healing together.”
We teared up as Lori Marie Key, a Detroit nurse, sang “Amazing Grace.” A video of her singing it to her colleagues had gone viral. Key said, “Working as a Covid nurse was heartbreaking. But when I’m at work, I sing. It gives me strength during difficult times, and I believe it helps heal.” Biden thanked Ms. Key with, “If there are any angels in heaven, they’re all nurses.”
The ceremony ended with Biden, Harris and their spouses looking out over the 400 lights along the reflecting pool as gospel singer Yolanda Adams closed with a moving rendition of “Hallelujah.”
Cities across the nation conducted coordinating memorial tributes. In Washington DC, funeral bells at the National Cathedral rang out 400 times. Flags were arranged to symbolize those lost, and iconic buildings were lit in cities nationwide.
Our lives have not changed much following this memorial ceremony. We continue to do our best to help stressed and anxious family members. We offer comfort to friends who have lost loved ones. We remain isolated, fearing that we could become infected before our turn comes to get vaccinated.
Now we have hope. President Biden and Vice-president Harris recognize and care about our pain. They are putting the full force of the United States government behind the solutions needed to end this pandemic. One day our lives really can get back to normal. We can heal together as “One nation, under God, Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.”
"Another Point of View" is a column written by rotating authors dedicated to providing a variety of perspectives on life and politics.