UNITED STATES

Biden, Harris host coronavirus vigil on eve of inauguration

US President-elect Joe Biden, his wife Jill Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff at a memorial service for US victims of Covid-19 on January 19, 2021.
US President-elect Joe Biden, his wife Jill Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff at a memorial service for US victims of Covid-19 on January 19, 2021. REUTERS - TOM BRENNER
2 min

A small crowd gathered behind security fences outside of Washington DC’s Lincoln Memorial Tuesday as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris hosted a sunset ceremony to honour 400,000 Americans who have lost their lives to Covid-19.

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Four hundred lights, each representing 1,000 lives, were lit up along the monument’s Reflection Pool as part of a high-security event that was streamed online.

Gospel singer Yolanda Adams sang Leonard Cohen’s "Hallelujah", while Lori Marie Key, a nurse from Michigan, sang “Amazing Grace”. Church bells tolled across the capital in remembrance.

“To heal, we must remember. It’s hard sometimes to remember. But that’s how we heal,” said Biden, who will be sworn in as president Wednesday.

While the inauguration committee encouraged those wanting to participate to light a candle in their window, dozens chose to show up outside the memorial instead.

"The last couple of weeks have been pretty disturbing," said Eric, a former resident of DC who worked on Biden's election campaign. "I wanted to be here today to bear witness to it all."

A woman nearby told RFI that watching the ceremony on the video alone "just wouldn't be the same."

Although he's made controlling the coronavirus pandemic the overarching goal of his presidency, Biden has warned things will get worse before they get better.

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