Flags across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts were lowered to half-staff on Monday as the country hit a grim milestone in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Please be advised that in respect for and memory of the more than 500,000 Americans lost during the COVID-19 pandemic, and in accordance with the Presidential proclamation, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has ordered that the United States of America flag and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts flag shall be flown at half-staff at all state buildings beginning immediately until sunset on Friday, February 26, 2021,” a notice from Burlington Veterans Services said on Monday.
The order applies to the main or administration building of each public institution of the state, e.g. town and city halls, other state-owned or controlled buildings and all military institutions.
On Monday, President Joe Biden addressed the nation from the White House on the half-a-million deceased Americans with a message of both hope and mourning.
“We often hear people described as ordinary Americans,” he said. There’s no such thing. There’s nothing ordinary about them. The people we lost were extraordinary.”
President Biden also spoke about his own experience with grief, which is significant, as a way to relate to those impacted by the virus. On December 18, 1972, Biden lost his first wife and one-year-old daughter in a car accident shortly after he was first elected to the Senate. He then lost his eldest son Beau Biden in 2015 to brain cancer.
“I know all too well, I know what it’s like to not be there when it happens,” he said. “I know what it’s like when you are there, holding their hands, as they look in your eye and they slip away. That black hole in your chest, you feel like you’re being sucked into it.”
The president also had words of hope for the future.
“This nation will smile again,” he said. “This nation will know sunny days again. This nation will know joy again. And as we do, we’ll remember each person we’ve lost, the lives they lived, the loved ones they left behind.”