This coming September, a gigantic memorial of white flags honoring the more than 600,000 Americans who have perished from COVID-19 will be planted and put on display across the National Mall in Washington, DC. The project – In America: Remember – is the vision of Maryland artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg.
This will be Firstenberg’s second installation of In America: Remember. Last fall, she planted more than 267,000 flags outside of DC’s Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium. Despite having four acres to work with, Firstenberg ran out of space due to the acceleration of the insurmountable death toll.
The exhibit will run from September 17th to October 3rd and will be the largest collaborative art display on the National Mall since the AIDS quilt was unveiled nearly four decades ago.
“This fall as employers bring workers back to office buildings and students return to school, it will be too easy to ‘go back to normal,'” Firstenberg said in a press release. “But for one in three American families, there is no normal. This exhibit honors all who have died, but it is more than an act of remembrance. In America: Remember will provide an historic visual reminding us for years to come that being an American means caring for all Americans. We cannot let this ever happen again. Our strength comes from the degree to which we stand side-by-side in the face of the challenges that lie ahead.”
Visitors can wander through designated paths amongst the rows of white flags. Those who lost loved ones to COVID-19 can also have a flag dedicated to their memory.
“As the United States barrels towards normal, many in the Covid loss community feel like our loved ones are being pushed aside as inconvenient statistics,” said Sabila Khan, co-founder of COVID-19 Loss Support for Family & Friends. “There is a real fear that they will be forgotten, and that we will be left behind to suffer the trauma of Covid loss on our own. In recentering the Covid conversation around the heartbreaking human toll of this virus, Suzanne Firstenberg’s art is a clarion call for this nation to never forget the over 607,000 Americans we’ve lost in this unprecedented season of grief.”
The novel coronavirus has taken the lives of 623,870 people in the United States since the onset of the pandemic in March of 2020, according to Worldometer’s COVID tracker. That figure is greater than all of the combined military fatalities in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the seemingly endless War on Terror.
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Brandon is a political writer for the Hill Reporter specializing in current events, breaking news, and scientific discovery. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University. He lives in New York City.