WASHINGTON, D.C. — President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris spoke Tuesday evening at a COVID-19 memorial at the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool to honor the hundreds of thousands of lives lost in the U.S. to COVID-19 over the past year.
This was Biden’s first stop after arriving in Washington, D.C. ahead of Wednesday’s inauguration.
Along with speaking, Biden and Harris participated in illuminating the reflecting pool with 400 lights that honor lives lost to COVID-19. Their transition team says it’s the first-ever lighting around the reflecting pool.
“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," Biden said.
Organizers said hundreds of towns, cities, tribes, landmarks and communities across the country have also committed to joining the tribute in a “national moment of unity” at 5:30 p.m. EST. The Empire State Building and the Space Needle are among the participating landmarks.
Biden and Harris were joined by their spouses, Dr. Jill Biden and Douglas Emhoff, as well as Cardinal Wilton Gregory, Archbishop of Washington, delivered an invocation. Yolanda Adams, a nationally recognized gospel singer, also sang “Hallelujah.” And Lori Marie Key, with the Saint Joseph Mercy Health System in Michigan, sang “Amazing Grace.”
In addition to Tuesday’s COVID-19 memorial, the Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) has installed a public art display on the National Mall that includes about 191,500 U.S. flags of varying sizes, including flags representing every state and territory, as well as 56 pillars of lights. The “Field of Flags” is meant to represent the American people who are unable to travel to D.C. for the inauguration due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“The inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris 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. 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,” said PIC CEO and President of Delaware State University Tony Allen.