WASHINGTON – In the shadow of the White House, hundreds of thousands of white flags fill the 80,000 square meters of the National Mall. Each one represents one American life lost to COVID-19.
Planted below the Washington Monument, rows of flags will remain in place until October 3 at the art installation, which serves as a memorial to the more than 675,000 American lives lost to COVID-19.
For many, it has become a place to mourn and remember their loved ones who have succumbed to the disease.
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Among them, would-be bride Corina Castellanes, whose mother died of COVID-19 last year.
“We’re actually getting married in December, so the fact that she won’t be here is on my mind lately,” she told Granthshala National News.
Some visitors have chosen to scroll the individual messages on the flags.
“It all helps a person to know that there was a human behind that flag,” Susan Brennan Furstenberg, the artist behind the installation, told Granthshala National News.
It can be difficult to imagine the death toll from COVID-19. According to Furstenberg, the field of the flags is there to provide perspective.
“9/11 happened in an instant, and we were all horrified,” she said. “It’s a slow-motion tragedy. It’s easy to forget. It’s easy to watch. It’s easy not to value these deaths.”
But it matters to friends of Alberto Morrison, a veteran who survived deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq, only to be killed at home from the disease.
“You just feel so helpless,” Chris Kramrich, a friend of Morrison’s, told Granthshala National News. “So it just helps with the connection and helps honor him and his family.”
As the number of deaths from COVID-19 in the US continues to rise, around 2,000 per day, so does the number of flags erected.
“I ordered more flags again five days ago and I still don’t know if I’m going to have enough,” Furstenberg said. “I’d like to stop flagging.”