President Joe Biden marked the milestone of 500,000 lives lost from the coronavirus, delivering a speech Monday evening to honor the dead.
After pointing to the enormous death toll, Biden remarked that America had lost more lives than “any other nation on earth.”
The president delivered an emotional speech lamenting each “extraordinary” American lost, urging everyone not to become “numb to the sorrow” of the pandemic. But he also blamed “politics and misinformation” for leading Americans astray in the battle against the pandemic.
“We must end the politics and misinformation that’s divided families, communities in the country, and it’s cost too many lives already,” he said.
Biden did not speak about the origin of the virus in China and the Communist Party’s failure to stop the spread of the virus around the world or the success that the United States had in swiftly developing a vaccine.
Instead, Biden tried to empathize with those still living who had lost loved ones, citing his personal experience of loss.
“I promise you. The day will come when the memory of the loved one you lost will bring a smile to your lips before a tear to your eye,” Biden said.
He said that everyone experiencing loss should rediscover a sense of national purpose as they looked for their way forward.
“As we all remember, I also ask us to act, to remain vigilant, to stay socially distanced, to mask up, to get vaccinated when it’s your turn,” he said.
At one point, Biden stumbled over his speech referring to “millstones” instead of the word “milestones.”
“These millstones no longer mark our national mourning,” he said before correcting himself, “These milestones I should say…”
Biden urged all Americans to have hope at a time of immense struggle.
“While we’ve been humbled, we’ve never given up, we are America, we can and will do this,” he said.
Biden also tried to encourage all Americans to look forward to the moment when the pandemic was over.
“This nation will smile again, this nation will know sunny days again, this nation will know joy again,” he said.
After his speech, Biden exited the White House with First Lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and her husband Doug for a moment of silence in front of candles set up on the stairs of the South Portico of the White House.
The military band played the tune to “Amazing Grace” as they stood quietly, wearing masks, before returning indoors.