The Washington National Cathedral has tolled its bell 500 times in honour of the 500,000 Americans lost to the Covid-19 virus.
The United States on Monday crossed the staggering milestone of 500,000 COVID-19 deaths just over a year since the coronavirus pandemic claimed its first known victim in Santa Clara County, California.
A memorial service was held to mark the grim milestone, with prayers and reflections being offered by leaders from a number of different faiths. The live-streamed event featured Rev Canon Jan Naylor Cope, provost of the National Cathedral, who read a passage from the Book of Common Prayer.
“We thank you for giving them to us, to know and to love as companions on our earthly pilgrimage,” she said. “In your boundless compassion, console us who mourn. Give us faith to see in death the gate of eternal life so that in quiet confidence we may continue our course on earth, until, by your call, we are reunited with those who have gone before; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
President Joe Biden marked the occasion at the White House, lighting a candle and observing a minute’s silence.
“This nation will smile again. This nation will know sunny days again. This nation will know joy again,” he said in a statement. “And as we do, we will remember each person we’ve lost, the lives they lived, the loved ones they left behind.”
Biden added: “We will get through this, I promise you. But my heart aches for you – those of you who are going through it right now. May God bless you all, particularly those who have lost someone. God bless you.”