A Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department Color Guard snapped to attention. Prayers were offered and a bagpiper played as elected leaders from across Northern Virginia gathered Wednesday evening at the Fairfax County Government Center for a solemn ceremony to remember the lives lost to COVID-19.
“We reflect on the lost year, the lost life milestones, the weddings, births, graduations, final moments with loved ones, lost jobs, lost learning, shattered careers and shuttered businesses,” said Falls Church Mayor David Tarter.
Tarter is also the chairman of the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, who organized the event. In total, 2,300 people from the 13 counties, cities and towns that comprise the commission died due to the coronavirus.
“We will never forget the real human toll of this pandemic,” Fairfax County Board Chairman Jeff McKay said.
A fire bell tolled to remember the dead. Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department Fire Chief John Butler said the bell held special significance to firefighters, and its solemn sound could offer healing.
“We mourn for our communities, our families and our friends,” said Butler.
The brief ceremony also saluted the work done by the region’s first responders and front line health care workers.
Fairfax Health Director Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu said members of her staff, many of whom never expected to perform dangerous duties, patrolled long-term care facilities for health compliance at the outset of the pandemic.
“(They) performed with excellence and compassion even when it meant putting their own lives at risk,” said Addo-Ayensu.
Elected leaders that spoke said brighter days are ahead. Even so, Addo-Ayensu urged everybody to get fully vaccinated in order to contain the coronavirus.
“I ask that everyone assist us to end the spread of COVID,” Addo-Ayensu said.
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