Today, the U.S. passed the extraordinary milestone of one-half million deaths, due to the coronavirus.
On January 19th, the day before the inauguration--only thirty-four days ago--we had reached 400,000 deaths.
This evening, President Biden spoke to the nation from the White House, to honor the half-million people who have died, to offer comfort to those who have experienced such terrible loss during the past year--and to offer solace to the country at large.
His remarks were moving. It is clear--as was evident before he became President--that one of Mr. Biden's most significant attributes is that, unlike his predecessor, he feels and understands--deeply--that which has taken place since early 2020. He grasps, deeply, the realms of tragedy, calamity, loss, grief--and understands, profoundly, not unlike a pastor, the significance of consolation, and remembrance.
Mr. Biden said, in part:
"While we've been fighting this pandemic for so long, we have to resist becoming numb to the sorrow. We have to resist viewing each life as a statistic or a blur or ‘on the news.’ And we must do so to honor the dead, but equally important, care for the living, those left behind."
He said: “For those who have lost loved ones, this is what I know: They’re never truly gone. They’ll always be part of your heart."
He said that for him, "the way through sorrow and grief is to find purpose. I don’t know how many of you have lost someone a while ago and are wondering, ‘Is he or she proud of me now? Is this what they want me to do?’ I know that’s how I feel. And we can find purpose – purpose worthy of the lives they lived and worthy of the country we love.
"So today, I ask all Americans to remember: Remember those we lost and those who are left behind."
After he spoke, the President, along with Jill Biden, and Vice President Harris and Douglas Emhoff, observed a moment of silence outside of the White House, at the front of the South Lawn. Memorial candles were situated on the ground near them--in front of, and then covering, each of the two stairways leading up to the White House balcony.