Rep. Greg Stanton will introduce a House Resolution commemorating the first Monday in March as “COVID-19 Victims and Survivors Memorial Day” to memorialize those lost and their loved ones, and recognize the suffering of those who still carry unknown health side effects from the virus. To build awareness around the effort, Stanton has partnered with two Arizonans who lost parents to the virus and have been working to honor the more than 500,000 lives lost.
“This week, Americans mourned half a million lives lost to the coronavirus—half a million family members, friends, neighbors and coworkers—and their absence in our communities is difficult to comprehend,” said Stanton. “Commemorating this Memorial Day is an important marker for all those affected by this pandemic. Long after our nation moves beyond this most grim episode, we will need to collectively recognize all those we lost and the aftershocks of what we experienced.”
In Arizona alone, more than 15,690 individuals have died due to COVID-19.
Stanton has been working with Kristin Urquiza, cofounder of Marked by COVID, and Tara Krebbs, an advocate with the organization. Both women lost their fathers to COVID-19 last year and have since worked to lift the stories of victims and their families. They turned their advocacy to state and local governments, asking them to recognize March 1 as a memorial day, and so far, more than 100 cities and dozens of states have joined the effort.
“Each and every one of the millions of people now #MarkedByCOVID were forced to make major—and in many cases the ultimate sacrifice,” said Urquiza. “We must create a collective public memory that encapsulates the unvarnished truth of what happened and why. Though the desire to return to normal is understandable, it is not realistic: thousands of people are still dying each day, and millions are still in mourning. We need to publicly grieve, heal, recognize, learn and prevent this from ever happening again if we want to move forward as one united nation. A COVID Memorial Day is essential on this path.”
“My family is so thankful that Representative Stanton has introduced this resolution. The pandemic has not been a pretty part of our history, but it is a part of our history and needs to be recognized,” said Krebbs. “Our lost loved ones deserve to be honored and memorialized. While we are currently still living through this tragedy, a memorial day offers our community a sense of unity and hope. My father, Charles Krebbs, loved his community and I know he would be proud to see us coming together to show love and support for all who have been affected by COVID-19.”
Tuesday evening, Stanton and members of the House gathered on the steps of the Capitol to light candles in vigil for those who’ve passed. He said the moment was somber, but also one of hope.
“Vaccines are reaching our communities—and more are on the way,” Stanton said. “We still have a lot of work ahead to make sure people are healthy and safeguard our local economies, but I’m full of hope that together we can overcome this.”
The full text of the Resolution can be viewed here. Stanton will introduce it tomorrow with cosponsors.