400 Lights, For 400,000 Dead, Illuminate Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool

President-elect Joe Biden; his spouse, Jill Biden; Vice President-elect Kamala Harris; and her husband, Doug Emhoff, listen as Yolanda Adams sings “Hallelujah” during a COVID-19 memorial, with lights put around the Lincoln Memorials reflecting pool, on Tuesday.

Evan Vucci/AP

hide caption

toggle caption

Evan Vucci/AP

President-elect Joe Biden; his partner, Jill Biden; Vice President-elect Kamala Harris; and her husband, Doug Emhoff, listen as Yolanda Adams sings “Hallelujah” throughout a COVID-19 memorial, with lights put around the Lincoln Memorials showing swimming pool, on Tuesday.

Evan Vucci/AP

However the reflecting pool event, hosted by the incoming president, is the most popular effort so far to keep in mind those who have actually died.

” This is a renowned vista of heroes and honor and of memorialization,” says history teacher Micki McElya, who composed the book The Politics of Mourning: Death and Honor in Arlington National Cemetery. “Its difficult to think about that surface without likewise thinking about the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963.”

Four-hundred lights around the Lincoln Memorials reflecting pool were lit Tuesday night to honor the 400,000 individuals in the U.S. who have actually died from COVID-19.

The memorial, building upon prior localized efforts, represents the “awareness of the work of a lot of people and the realization of the requirement to come together and honor those whove been lost, but likewise to consider those losses and what this suggests for this country,” McElya states.

In September, volunteers placed 20,000 flags on the National Mall when the death toll crossed 200,000. Other memorials have appeared around the nation, from roadside drive-bys to individualss front yards.

Other cities throughout the country are making their own tributes on Tuesday to those lost to COVID-19. The Empire State Building in New York and the Space Needle in Seattle are amongst the structures being lit.

Updated at 5:52 p.m. ET

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris both spoke.

McElya talked with NPRs Mary Louise Kelly on All Things Considered about cumulative grieving during a pandemic in which individuals are continuing to pass away. Here are excerpts, which consist of Web-only extended responses:

And I do think that these are minutes that can help heal. And not in an ignorant method, however in a real and profound method.

Sharing grief brings individuals together, particularly in the United States, like nothing else. Its in moments of nationwide grieving, its in minutes of cumulative sorrow and collective honor that we come together, that we experience those bonds of nationhood and neighborhood across all of these lots of different lines of distinction. It is hard to picture a long-term memorial at this point, something that we will need and something that individuals are working towards, due to the fact that these destructive losses continue., there have been thousands of American flags put along the Mall to represent the individuals who would have been there, the people who cant be there because they cant securely collect in that area.

Sharing grief brings people together, particularly in the United States, like absolutely nothing else. Its in moments of nationwide mourning, its in minutes of collective sorrow and collective honor that we come together, that we experience those bonds of nationhood and community across all of these numerous different lines of distinction.

Kat Lonsdorf and Christopher Intagliata produced and edited the audio interview. James Doubek produced for the Web.

I wonder whether it is harder to grieve while were still in the middle of something.

The space that has to do with speaking back to the nation and about representing the nation is itself not only militarized and locked down, however an unsafe environment for public health.

Simply a couple of months ago, there were countless flags there marking the dead. And the toll at that point was 220,000. We already have lost many more people. It is facing that.

Its worth keeping in mind that we mark this minute of 400,000 lives lost in the U.S. at a moment when our capital city is locked down, is militarized in the service of protecting Americans from other Americans. How does that complicate collective mourning?

It is challenging to envision an irreversible memorial at this point, something that we will require and something that people are working towards, since these disastrous losses continue. … Yet I think that its more crucial now than ever … to honor those who have actually died, but likewise to enact collective grieving, in part to keep alertness, in part to remind us how crucial it remains and is to use masks, to follow public health suggestions– that this is a cumulative effort that has to continue.

You composed about how sharing grief brings individuals together, and I question if you would elaborate on that.

And there can be no unity, there can be no collectivity without a shared sense of belonging, without a shared sense of community in this nation. Whichs what cumulative sorrow deals.

It is both a huge barrier and makes the stakes that much higher., there have actually been thousands of American flags positioned along the Mall to represent the individuals who would have been there, the individuals who cant be there since they cant safely collect in that space.

We already have actually lost so numerous more people.