“Today, we mark a truly grim, heartbreaking milestone,” Biden said. “500,071 dead. That’s more Americans who’ve died in one year in this pandemic than in World War I, World War II, the Vietnam War combined. That’s more lives lost to this virus than any other nation on Earth.”
Drawing on his own personal experience of losing loved ones, Biden said, “I know what it’s like to not be there when it happens. I know what it is like when you are there, holding their hands, look in your eye and they slip away, that black hole in your chest, you feel like you are being sucked into it, the survivor’s remorse, the anger, the questions of faith in your soul.”
Biden lost his wife and daughter in 1972 when they were killed in a traffic accident. His son, Beau, died in 2015 of cancer.
“I know it’s hard, I promise you. I know it’s hard, I remember,” Biden said. “That’s how you heal, you have to remember. It is also important to do that as a nation. To all those who have lost loved ones, this is what I know: They’re never truly gone. They will always be part of your heart.”
“This seems unbelievable, but I promise you, the day will come, when the memory of the loved one you lost will bring a smile to your lips before a tear to your eyes…I pray for you that day will come sooner rather than later.”
Biden, First Lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman then participated in a ceremony on the South Portico of the White House, where 500 lit candles were placed along the steps to signify the milestone. They listened to the Marine Band play Amazing Grace, before having a moment of silence.
Biden finished his speech by urging survivors to “find purpose,” while remaining vigilant of the pandemic.
“This nation will smile again. This nation will know sunny days again. This nation will know joy again, and as we do, remember each person we have lost, the lives they lived and the loved ones they left behind.”
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