CWU participates in nationwide COVID-19 memorial


Justin Zabel, Staff Reporter

On Jan. 19, CWU participated in a nationwide mourning of the lives of more than 400,000 Americans who have died due to COVID-19. Barge Hall was lit up in amber colors to show support to the families across the nation and in the Ellensburg community.

At 5:30 p.m. that night, employees and their family members of the City of Ellensburg, Kittitas County Public Health Department, Kittitas Valley Healthcare (KVH) and CWU gathered in front of Barge Hall. Provost and Vice President for Academic and Student Life at Central Washington University, Michelle DenBeste, spoke outside Barge Hall about how CWU and the Ellensburg community wanted to participate in the nationwide memorial to honor everyone impacted by COVID-19.

Along with DenBeste, Ellensburg Mayor of Ellensburg Bruce Tabb, Ellensburg Police Chief Ken Wade, Chief MedicalOfficer KVH Dr. Kevin Martin and Kittitas County Public Health Officer Dr. Mark Larson were involved in the memorial as well. 

“This is a day of memorial, but it is also a day to remember those who have grieved, and lost people through this pandemic,” Tabb said. 

Tabb said that Ellensburg citizens will work together as a community to get through this pandemic. He also touched on how Ellensburg is the standard of following the health and safety regulations that Gov. Jay Inslee has implemented.

“A memorial is about those who have lost,” Tabb said. “And if anything, our country at this moment needs a deep breath and quiet, to reflect upon who we are as a nation, where we are going together, and how we will continue to forge a future for ourselves and those who find it.”

While Ellensburg was lighting up Barge Hall, in Washington D.C., President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris came together the day before Biden’s inauguration in order to mourn the losses as a nation. The Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, in Washington D.C., lit up with 400 lights in a memorial. 

Biden spoke to the American people, saying he knows how they feel about the loss of a family member. Biden lost his first wife and daughter in a car wreck and lost his son, Beau, to cancer.

“It’s hard sometimes to remember, but that’s how we heal,” Biden said. “It’s important to do that as a nation.”

Alongside Biden’s statement, Harris touched on how many people have been grieving alone, and that the nation needs to come together more than ever to make every American feel cared for and have the feeling of belonging together. 

“Though we may be physically separated, we, the American people, are united in spirit and my abiding hope, my abiding prayer, is that we emerge from this ordeal with a new wisdom: to cherish simple moments, to imagine new possibilities and to open our hearts just a little bit more to one another,” Harris said.