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The Sobering Truth About COVID-19

As I watched Joe Biden, president of the United States, deliver a sobering speech to pay tribute to the 500,000 lives lost to COVID-19, my eyes filled with tears. If the truth of this pandemic hadn’t sunk in before, I think it did today.

Dressed in black, the President and First Lady, the Vice President and First Gentleman appropriately reflected the atmosphere of mourning outside the White House and in the country. The United States has the dubious honor of having the highest number of deaths in the world–more than all the people killed in all the wars we have fought, and enough to fill the whole of Arlington cemetery.

Many of those who have died did not have a proper funeral. Loved ones were not there to bid them a final good-bye and to have closure for their own grief. Many people died, and are dying, alone. My sister-in-law died alone.

But today, following that short ceremony at the White House and the ringing of the cathedral bell 500 times and the flying of the flag at half mast on federal buildings, those who died finally received the long-awaited farewell. And those of us who are left behind have now achieved closure. We can go on with our lives, knowing that our loved ones died that we might live. As the President said, they were not ordinary Americans, but extraordinary.

They were the ones who were slammed by a disease before they even knew what hit them. But now, because of them, we know better. We know we can be proactive and take the vaccine. We can be proactive and wear our mask, wash our hands, and avoid gatherings. We can save our lives and that of others. Is it too hard to ask?

I shivered when I saw the six figures on the television screen. It’s not the type of six figures we like to boast about. It’s not a number, nor a bank account balance. It’s lives lost, lives that will never return–mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends. And as I stared at the numbers, I asked my husband, “Do you think we’ll get to a million?”

I hope not. I think not. As long as we look out for ourselves and each other, the six figures will soon be a painful, distant memory. God bless.

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