President Joe Biden marked the grim milestone of 500,000 lives lost to the Covid-19 pandemic in a short but moving speech to the nation Monday night, drawing on his own personal tragedies as a rhetorical salve for a country still struggling. against deadly disease.
“More Americans have died in one year in this pandemic than in World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War combined. More lives are lost to this virus than any other nation on Earth,” said Biden. . “But in recognizing the magnitude of this massive death in America, we remember each person and the life they lived.”
The president said that he keeps a card in his pocket every day with the count of those who have died from Covid-19.
“The people we lost were extraordinary,” Biden said. “We have to resist becoming numb to pain.”
While Biden highlighted the hundreds of thousands who have passed away, he also urged Americans to remember those who are still reeling from losing loved ones.
Biden, who often relies on his personal losses when addressing national tragedies, compared his grief to what he experienced after the death of his first wife and daughter, as well as his eldest son Beau.
“I know what it’s like not to be there when it happens,” he said. “I know what it’s like when you’re there, holding hands, looking into their eyes as they sneak away.”
“This is how you heal, you have to remember. The day will come when the memory of the loved one you lost will bring a smile to your lips rather than a tear to your eyes,” he added, saying that “for me the path through the pain and pain is finding purpose. “
New Covid-19 cases have continued to plummet after a post-holiday spike. The US has reported more than 100,000 new cases daily in just one of the last 14 days, a month after the regular number of more than 200,000 new cases, according to data from NBC News. Daily deaths are also declining, but more slowly, regularly dwarfing 2,000.
Before Biden finished his speech, he joined the first lady, Vice President Kamala Harris and the second gentleman for a moment of silence ceremony. They were surrounded by 500 candles, each of which represented 1,000 lives lost to Covid-19. As the president bowed his head, the Navy band brass ensemble played Amazing Grace. After the music ended, Biden crossed himself and officials reentered the White House.
Biden closed his comments by urging Americans to work together to defeat the virus by following public health guidelines such as social distancing and wearing masks.
“We must end the politics and misinformation that divides families and communities in this country,” Biden said. This virus is not targeting Democrats or Republicans, he added, but all of our fellow Americans.
“Let this not be a story of how much we fell, but how much we got back up,” Biden said.