KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Nearly 550 candles lined the mall at the National World War I Museum and Memorial Saturday night in honor of the Kansas Citians who lost their lives to COVID-19.
“This is an opportunity to give family and friends a chance to memorialize them," Bert Malone, of the Missouri Public Health Association, said.
The COVID-19 pandemic kept loved ones at a distance and prevented proper goodbyes. For that reason, Karmello Coleman helped organize the tribute.
“My nephew passed of the virus a couple of months ago, and it was very hard," Coleman said, "and it’s been hard for all of us because people have been dying and you can’t say goodbye to your loved ones. They’re isolated from people."
The idea behind the COVID-19 memorial was to dedicate a space for the community to safely grieve and remember their loved ones, especially those who were unable to have or attend a funeral.
“I feel like I can really say goodbye to him," Coleman said, "which I wasn’t really able to do when he passed away."
As people drove through the memorial, they tuned in their radios to hear programming that consisted of music and words of encouragement from Malone, Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas, and United States Representative Emmanuel Cleaver II.
And as the 548 candles honored the lives lost, they also served another purpose.
“Well, I think it’s a memorialization," Malone said. "It’s an opportunity to remember those individuals and to see as those candles light that there’s light at the end of this tunnel, and we feel like we are making progress with the vaccinations that are occurring, but also to remember those we’ve lost."
As part of this United Tribute, the Downtown Marriott Hotel illuminated its building in the motif of a candle. Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral and St. Mary's Episcopal and the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception rang their bells at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.