President Biden has ordered flags in public buildings across the country to be flown at half staff as the nation officially mourns 1 million American deaths due to the coronavirus pandemic. As he noted in a statement:
“One million empty chairs around the dinner table. Each an irreplaceable loss. Each leaving behind a family, a community, and a nation forever changed because of this pandemic. Jill and I pray for each of them. To those who are grieving and asking yourself how will you go on without him or what will you do without her, I understand. I know the pain of that black hole in your heart. It is unrelenting. But I also know the ones you love are never truly gone. They will always be with you. As a nation, we must not grow numb to such sorrow. To heal, we must remember. We must remain vigilant against this pandemic and do everything we can to save as many lives as possible, as we have with more testing, vaccines, and treatments than ever before …”
The milestone that the country likely hit a while ago, a toll that many experts hoped would never be reached has proved hard to grasp for too many people in this country. The coronavirus deaths are the equivalent or exceed the populations of cities like San Jose, Calif., Austin, Tex., or Jacksonville, Fla. The comparisons are inexact and not easy, but with Memorial Day approaching, is it appropriate to note that the U.S. pandemic deaths now roughly equal the nation’s fatalities in the Civil War, World War I and World War II combined?