The lights hanging from the Monroe County Courthouse flipped on at 5:27 p.m. Tuesday, even though it was still light out. At exactly 5:30 p.m., the faint ringing of the bell echoed from the tower above the lit-up municipal structure.
Each ring was soft, easily covered up by the passing traffic and difficult to hear even from across the street.
Some people walking around the square looked up at the building and noticed at least one of the 108 rings.
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This illuminating of the lights and the ringing of bells was one of thousands of similar ceremonies performed around the country Tuesday as part of a nation-wide day of remembrance for people who have died from COVID-19. The event was created by President-elect Joe Biden’s Presidential Inaugural Committee.
Few, if any, people gathered in the square for the tolling of the bells. The Monroe County Board of Commissioners, which organized the event, advised people to practice social distancing or watch it on the live video on the commissioner’s Facebook page. About 173 people had watched the five-minute video, as of 9:30 p.m.
Monroe County Commissioner Penny Githens said she wanted the county to participate in this ceremony because it is important for the community to recognize all of the people who died since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Githens said she also hopes this act of remembrance helps people remember to continue following COVID-19 protocols, such as practicing social distancing, maintaining good hygiene and wearing masks.
“We need to remember that COVID is still with us and that if we’re not cautious, more people will die,” she said. “We can’t let up.”
COVID-19 is at an all-time high in terms of cases and deaths in the United States. The U.S. passed 400,000 COVID-19 deaths Tuesday afternoon, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The remembrance ceremony in Washington, included comments from Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Their speeches about suffering the loss of loved ones and honoring COVID-19 victims were followed by the illumination of 400 lights around the edge of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. Each light represented 1,000 American lives lost to COVID-19.
"It's hard sometimes to remember, but that's how we heal,” Biden said at the ceremony. “It's important to do that as a nation.”