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.

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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.

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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.”