For the last 19 years, a reading of every victim’s name that died during the 9/11 attacks is read aloud for remembrance.
It typically takes around three hours to read 3,000 names, and this year I wonder if there will be a similar remembrance for those who died so far of COVID-19. As I write this, 650,000 people have died in the US of that disease, and if all their names were to be read out loud, it would take 650 hours (or twenty-seven straight days and nights) to get through every single one of them.
As I write this, there is a debate over whether or not the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 is truly accurate. It almost doesn’t matter how many people have died or will die from COVID-19 because the actual numbers will never be recorded. COVID-19 has made us all feel expendable, and I know that if I die from it, no one will read my name out loud every year at some annual memorial. COVID-19 has rendered the dead anonymous, and society is being conditioned to think that we don’t need to know who any of those people were.
Someday, the virus will pass, and all those who died from the disease will pass along with it. The anonymous dead will decompose into the detritus of time. How much of their rotting remains will enrich the soil has yet to be determined. My only hope is that the voices of those who died of COVID-19 will someday be heard and that they will speak words that will move us to listen. The COVID-19 dead are this era’s war victims, all of them soldiers who essentially went to battle without any weapons.
Life went on after 9/11, and life will go on still after COVID-19. What that life will look like will ebb and flow like a river; sometimes it will be calm, and sometimes it will flood. Life is never constant, and change is the only thing that a person can reasonably expect. I know that there are some changes that I am openly rooting for, and most of the changes involve us working together to save the planet that we all call home.
The only way humans will go away is if we allow ourselves to be gone. However, I know that there are too many of us who want to stay here for quite a while longer.