Biden Leads Mourning of the Half-Million Lost

President says Americans killed by COVID-19 were 'extraordinary'
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 22, 2021 7:10 PM CST
Biden, Vigil Honor 'Extraordinary' Lives Lost
Candles line the steps outside the White House during a moment of silence Monday evening.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

With the nation's death toll from the COVID-19 outbreak reaching a half-million, President Biden on Monday mourned the people who make up that statistic. "We often hear people described as ordinary Americans," he said in a televised address. "There's nothing ordinary about them. The people we lost were extraordinary, they span generations, born in America and immigrated to America. But just like that, so many of them took their final breath alone in America." Then he, Vice President Kamala Harris, and their spouses stepped outside the White House for a sunset candle-lighting vigil and a moment of silence. To mark the nation's loss, Biden has called for lowering US flags to half-staff for five days, the New York Times reports.

Biden referred to the enormity of the "truly heartbreaking" toll, per USA Today, and cautioned against becoming numb to the deaths. "That's more Americans who have died in one year in this pandemic than in World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War combined," he said. "That's more lives lost to this virus than any other nation on Earth." The rituals that help families grieve have not always been possible during the pandemic because of restrictions, the president said. "We will get through this," Biden promised, and those lost won't be forgotten. "This nation will smile again," he said. "This nation will know sunny days again. This nation will know joy again. And as we do, we’ll remember each person we lost, the lives they lived, and the loved ones they've left behind." (Read more President Biden stories.)

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