'Bells toll for lives lost as U.S. reaches 500,000 COVID deaths
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.
In a proclamation honoring the dead, President Joe Biden ordered the U.S. flag to be flown at half-staff on public buildings and grounds until sunset on Friday.
“On this solemn occasion, we reflect on their loss and on their loved ones left behind,” Biden said in the proclamation. “We, as a Nation, must remember them so we can begin to heal, to unite, and find purpose as one Nation to defeat this pandemic.”
Bells tolled at the National Cathedral in Washington to honor the lives lost - ringing 500 times to symbolize the 500,000 deaths.
“As we acknowledge the scale of this mass death in America, remember each person and the life they lived,” Biden said in a somber speech at the White House after the bells sounded.
“The son who called his mom every night just to check in. The father, the daughter who lit up his world. The best friend who was always there. … The nurse who made her patients want to live.”
A few moments later, Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and their spouses appeared wearing black clothing and black masks. They stood silently as the hymn “Amazing Grace” was played.