In his first stop after arriving in Washington, D.C. on the evening before his inauguration, President-elect Joe Biden along with Dr. Jill Biden, Vice President-elect Harris and Douglas Emhoff will participated in a memorial, lighting the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool with 400 lights to honor the 400,000 lives lost to COVID-19. This was the first-ever lighting around the reflecting pool of the Lincoln Memorial.
The memorial featured the lighting around the reflecting pool at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, as hundreds of towns, cities, tribes, landmarks, and communities all across the country joined the tribute in a national moment of unity. Iconic buildings like the Empire State Building in New York City and the Space Needle in Seattle, WA were lit in solidarity. Other places across America that participated, included Wilmington, DE, where a short time before, as Biden left for Washington DC, he paid tribute saying “Delaware will always be in my heart.” Also, Oakland, CA; Miami, FL; Atlanta, GA; Chicago, IL; Dearborn, MI; Las Vegas, NV; Philadelphia, PA; Scanton, PA; Charleston, SC; Houston, TX; and tribal lands throughout the nation.
In brief, but poignant and moving remarks, Biden said, “To heal, we must remember. And it is hard sometimes to remember, but that’s how we heal. It is important to do that as a nation. That is why we are here today. Between sundown and dusk, let us shine the lights in the darkness along this sacred pool of reflection and remember all who we have lost.”
Harris said, “We gather tonight, a nation in mourning, to pay tribute to the lives we have lost. A grandmother or grandfather who was our whole world. A parent, partner, sibling, or friend who we still cannot accept, is no longer here. And 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. And my abiding hope, my abiding prayer, is that we emerge from this ordeal with a new wisdom. To cherish simple moments. To imagine new possibilities. And to open our hearts, just a little more, to one another.”
They were joined by:
Cardinal Wilton Gregory, Archbishop of Washington, who will deliver the Invocation;
Yolanda Adams, a nationally-recognized gospel singer who will sing Hallelujah;
Lori Marie Key, with Saint Joseph Mercy Health System in Michigan who will sing Amazing Grace.
After Key sang “Amazing Grace,” Biden said, “I mean this from the bottom of my heart, if there are any angels in Heaven they are all nurses. We know from our family experience the courage and pain you observe for others. Thank you.”
“The inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris represents the beginning of a new national journey — one that renews its commitment to honor its fallen and rise toward greater heights in their honor. In that spirit, it is important that we pay tribute to those we have lost — and their families — and come together to unite our country, contain this virus, and rebuild our nation,” said PIC CEO and President of Delaware State University Tony Allen.
Yolanda Adams triumphantly carries the torch for contemporary gospel and inspirational music. With 13 releases Yolanda has earned a multitude of accolades including four Grammy Awards and selling nearly 10 million albums worldwide. Not only is Yolanda a phenomenal vocalist, but she is also an author, record company executive, fashion designer, mother, and the host on her award-winning nationally syndicated radio show “The Yolanda Adams Morning Show.” Adams grew up in Houston, Texas. After graduating from Texas Southern University, she began a career as a schoolteacher and part-time model in Houston. Yolanda first began to garner attention for her singing in 1982. She released her breakthrough album “Mountain High… Valley Low” in 1999.
Lori Marie Key, RN is a 29-year old nurse who worked in her hospital’s COVID-19 unit. She gained prominence in April after a video was circulated over the internet of her singing Amazing Grace during a shift change at St. Mary Mercy Hospital in Livonia, MI, part of Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, which is a member of national health system Trinity Health. Lori Marie Key appeared on Good Morning America, and she was named Nurse of the Week by “Daily Nurse.”
Cardinal Wilton Gregory is the seventh Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Washington and the first African American Cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church. Cardinal Gregory grew up in Chicago where he was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago on May 9, 1973, and three years after his ordination began graduate studies at the Pontifical Liturgical Institute (Sant’ Anselmo) in Rome. There, he earned his doctorate in sacred liturgy in 1980. Cardinal Gregory has served in many leading roles in the Catholic Church including as President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) from 2001 – 2004. During his tenure in office, the crisis of sex abuse by Catholic clergy escalated; and under his leadership, the bishops implemented the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.” The Charter also includes guidelines for reconciliation, healing, accountability, and prevention of future acts of abuse.