Washington, Jan 19 (efe-epa).- President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Tuesday evening paid tribute to the more than 400,000 people who have died in the US from Covid-19 on the eve of the pair’s inauguration in Washington.
In his first act in Washington, where he arrived on Tuesday from his home in Delaware, Biden went to the Lincoln Memorial, one of the US capital’s most hallowed public spaces, along with Harris and their spouses, Jill Biden and Doug Emhoff, respectively “To heal, we must remember. It’s hard sometimes to remember, but that’s how we heal. It’s important to do that as a nation. That’s why we’re here today,” said Biden at the ceremony just hours after the US Covid death toll officially surpassed 400,000.
The president-elect went on to say, as the reflecting pool at the site was illuminated, that “Between sundown and dusk, let us shine the lights in the darkness along the sacred pool of reflection and remember all who we have lost.”
Biden, Harris and their spouses silently observed the reflecting pool illuminated with 400 flickering lights each representing 1,000 of the lives lost to the coronavirus, while Leonard Cohen’s haunting “Hallelujah” was sung by Yolanda Adams.
Shortly before that, Harris had described the US as a nation “in mourning,” saying that “For many months, we have grieved by ourselves. Tonight, we grieve and begin healing together.”
“Though we may be physically separated, we, the American people, are united in spirit,” she said, adding that she hoped and prayed that the country would emerge from the pandemic with “new wisdom” that will allow Americans to appreciate the simple moments, imagine new possibilities and open their hearts.
Hundreds of cities, towns and tribes around the country paid tribute to the Covid victims along with Biden and Harris and – at the same time, 5:30 pm Washington time) illuminated their most iconic monuments, including the Empire State Building in New York City and Seattle’s Space Needle.
Churches around the country also tolled their bells to honor and commemorate the Covid victims.
Also sung at the Washington ceremony was “Amazing Grace,” performed by Detroit nurse Lori Key, who became famous for her interpretation of the same hymn to encourage her colleagues treating Covid patients and fighting against the disease.
Biden will become president on Wednesday at noon in an Inauguration Day ceremony on the steps of the US Capitol, although very few members of the public will be allowed to attend and strict security measures will be in place.