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WATCH: Biden, Harris speak at memorial ceremony in honor of COVID-19 victims
On the eve of President-elect Joe Biden’s official swearing-in, the Presidential Inaugural Committee will host a memorial for victims of the coronavirus at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in Washington.
Watch the event in the player above.
Billed as the “first-ever lighting around the Reflecting Pool,” the event will memorialize the lives lost to COVID-19. Four hundred lights will be used to light the large, rectangular reflecting pool on the National Mall. As of Tuesday, nearly 400,000 people in the U.S. have died, according to the Johns Hopkins University’s COVID tracker. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are expected to deliver remarks at the event.
The committee is also encouraging communities across the country to participate in the commemoration by lighting up buildings and ringing church bells at 5:30 p.m. EST Tuesday, in a “national moment of unity and remembrance.”
According to the committee, hundreds of U.S. cities, towns and tribal lands have already responded to the call. The windows of City Hall in Annapolis, Maryland, will be lit green. Savannah, Georgia, will illuminate its city hall in red and ring its bells once for every 10 deaths in Chatham County. Major landmarks like the Space Needle in Seattle will be illuminated. The Empire State Building in New York City will flash red, mimicking a heartbeat.
Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are expected to participate in the event, along with the incoming first lady Jill Biden and second gentlemen Dougl Emhoff.
Biden’s inauguration “represents the beginning of a new national journey — one that renews its commitment to honor its fallen and rise toward greater heights in their honor,” said Tony Allen, PIC CEO and President of Delaware State University, in a statement. “In that spirit, it is important that we pay tribute to those we have lost — and their families — and come together to unite our country, contain this virus, and rebuild our nation.”
Cardinal Wilton Gregory, Archbishop of Washington, who will deliver the invocation. Gospel singer Yolanda Adams will sing “Hallelujah.” Lori Marie Key, a 29-year-old nurse in Livonia, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, will sing “Amazing Grace.” Key sang the hymn during a shift change at St. Mary Mercy Hospital, which was captured on a video that went viral.
In April, Key told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that her hospital’s surgical floor became a COVID unit, and that sometimes she’d do a bedside prayer if patients requested it “because right now we need prayer more than every, spiritually.”
The PBS NewsHour will update this story as it develops.