Gainesville to host memorial for COVID-19 victims

Gainesville City Commissioners will host a memorial at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19, outside City Hall in remembrance of the lives lost to COVID-19 in our community and across the state.

Gainesville joins fellow cities and towns coming together at that time in a national moment of unity and remembrance of the more than 389,000 Americans who have died as a result of the pandemic.

After opening remarks from Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe and a moment of silence, the Gainesville clock tower bells will toll. Faith community leaders Rev. Catherine Dearlove of Trinity Metropolitan Community Church of Gainesville, Rabbi David Kaiman of Congregation B’nai Israel and Dr. Saeed R. Khan of Hoda Islamic Center then will offer blessings for the departed.

Gainesville City Commissioners will release floating candles onto the pond in front of City Hall, and singer Jimmy Young will conclude the tribute with a performance of “Amazing Grace.”

“This memorial serves to remind us of the devastating impact this pandemic has had on our community, our state and the world. It is also a chance to recommit to our collective COVID-19 response and rebuild our lives,” said Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the on-site gathering will be limited to city commissioners, staff, speakers and the media. The public is invited to “participate in place” by ringing a bell, lighting a candle, honking a horn or leaving on a porch light that evening, and to share the moment on social media using #COVIDMemorial.

Simultaneously in Washington, D.C., a ceremony will feature a lighting around the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. It is the first-ever lighting around the Reflecting Pool to memorialize American lives lost. The Presidential Inauguration Committee has invited communities across the nation to host tributes in honor of coronavirus victims. At its meeting January 7, the Gainesville City Commission voted to host a memorial in solidarity with the president-elect’s event in the nation’s capital.

“The inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris represents the beginning of a new national journey. However, in the midst of a pandemic – when so many Americans are grieving the loss of family, friends, and neighbors – it is important that we honor those who have died, reflect on what has been one of the more challenging periods in the nation’s history, and renew our commitment to coming together to end the pandemic and rebuild our nation,” said PIC Communications Director Pili Tobar.

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