COVID-19 Memorials Planned Across the Nation on Tuesday

Joe Biden's Inauguration Committee is leading a nation-wide memorial Tuesday night to remember and honor lives lost to COVID-19

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If you see cities lit up in amber light Tuesday night or hear church bells ringing this evening, there's a somber reason for it.

Joe Biden's inauguration committee is leading a nationwide memorial to remember and honor the 400,000 American lives lost to COVID-19. On Tuesday evening, there will be a special light show at the Lincoln Memorial pool in Washington, D.C. Click here to watch the memorial ceremony.

Cities across the country are being asked to pay similar tributes by shining amber-colored lights.

Main Street in Lewisville

The City of Lewisville announced it has plans to do so throughout the city hall buildings and fountain on Main Street. Reunion Tower announced plans to illuminate the tower lights in amber on Tuesday. Many churches are also making plans to toll their bells in the evening.

In Dallas, another special memorial is taking place at Turtle Creek Park. At 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, locals who lost loved ones to COVID-19 will be laying down a six-foot garland of roses in a heart shape at the corner of Hall Street and Turtle Creek Boulevard.

The event is being organized by local members of the group, Marked By COVID, a national network-turned nonprofit that is helping to raise awareness to the severity of the pandemic. The group is working with Kristina Libby, an artist in New York City who started the Floral Heart Project and has similar exhibits on display in open spaces throughout the city.

Courtesy: Kristina Libby
Kristina Libby, an NYC-based artist and founder of the Floral Heart Project, assisted a group in Dallas to create a similar heart-shaped memorial that will go up in Turtle Creek Park on Tuesday.

Around 300 roses were donated by an Irving florist Linspired Creations for the tribute in Dallas. Families are invited to bring their own flowers or battery-operated candles to add to the heart. Visitors are asked to wear masks and social distance.

A yellow heart memorial was also unveiled at the Museum of Archives in Irving over the weekend. It features hundreds of portraits and names of people who died from COVID-19.

The memorial was started by Rosie Davis of Irving, a local member of Marked By COVID who lost her mother to COVID-19 last May. The portraits were drawn by New Jersey teen Hannah Ernst, who gained national attention for her artwork honoring COVID-19 victims after her own grandfather died from the disease.

Kelsie Lozano and her family drove all the way from San Antonio to see their loved ones on the wall. She lost her mother, Massiel Escalante, and grandfather, Francisco Escalante, at the same time to the disease.

"My grandfather was very much a giving person, he would give the shirt off his back. So him missing in our every day lives is huge for me, for my kids." Lozano said. “My kids lost their grandmother. She spoiled them in every way shape or form. She was there for us in every way she could and even when she couldn’t be, she made a way."

Lozano told NBC 5 she wants people to humanize the numbers and help others understand the gravity of the pandemic.

"Their deaths are not just a number. It’s not just a statistic for this pandemic. They were important members of our family. They were absolutely the glue and foundation. We lost that," she said.

"There are so many people that still take this virus lightly, that don’t really know or understand the impact that it can have on certain people with health issues," said Frank Escalante, Lozano's uncle.  “[The yellow hearts] bring back the actual memory of their legacy. For me, it’s a living legacy that I can see and look at on the wall. That has every meaning to be remembered.“ 

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The exhibit will stay up through the end of the month. More than 1,000 yellow hearts dot the wall, with more added daily.

"This has definitely impacted our lives forever. It makes me sad to know this time, this era will be in history books. And that my kids will be in school one day learning about it and will have to expose that scar once again because they lost two very important people," Lozano said.

Families are welcome to visit the museum in person to decorate a yellow heart or they can submit one electronically.

More than 32,000 lives have been lost to COVID-19 in Texas. The Marked by COVID group said they are working on another art display in Texas cities to honor those lives. They are also working with others across the country to encourage legislators to create a national memorial day recognizing the victims of COVID-19.

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