San Francisco took part Tuesday in the first national Memorial to Lives Lost to COVID-19, with church bells ringing out and city buildings lit up in shades of amber and blue.
The national memorial was led by President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in Washington, D.C., where they delivered remarks at the Lincoln Memorial’s reflecting pool, which was circled by four hundred luminaries to honor the more than 400,000 Americans killed by the virus.
“To heal, we must remember. It’s hard sometimes to remember. But that’s how we heal,” Biden said at the ceremony. “It’s important to do that as a nation. That’s why we’re here today. Between sundown and dusk, let us shine the lights in the darkness along the sacred pool of reflection, and remember all that we lost,” Biden said.
The first confirmed COVID-19 death in the country took place in San Jose last year on Feb. 6, and 8 percent of all deaths have been in California. The state was on the verge of reaching 3 milion COVID-19 cases Tuesday, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Cities across the nation took part in the somber ceremony on the eve of Inauguration Day, which underscored Biden’s promise to fight the pandemic more aggressively than the current administration. That effort is expected to start his first days in office with an executive order requiring people to wear masks on federal property and while traveling interstate; with action to create community vaccination centers; and the creation of federal guidelines for reopening schools and businesses, as well as new stimulus measures to counteract the financial impact of the pandemic.
“Today San Francisco will join cities across the country to light up our buildings in honor of the hundreds of thousands who have sadly lost their lives to COVID-19,” Mayor London Breed said in a statement. “While we continue to work every day to keep people healthy and get the vaccine out to protect our residents and workers, it’s important for us to pause as a country and reflect on all that has been lost in the last year. The months ahead will not be easy, but as a country under the leadership of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice-President elect Kamala Harris, we can and will move forward together.”
Buildings lit up for the event in San Francisco included City Hall, the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, Davies Symphony Hall, the War Memorial Opera House and Performing Arts Center, Grace Cathedral, Coit Tower, Chase Center, Oracle Park and Salesforce Tower.
— S.F. Examiner staff report, wire services