In an emotional ceremony at the White House on Monday, President Joe Biden – joined by First Lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and First Gentleman Doug Emhoff – honored the 500,000+ American lives lost to COVID-19 over the past year.
Biden first gave a deeply personal speech inside the White House before exiting the South Portico and holding a moment of silence. On the stairs leading up to the balcony were candles commemorating those who have died from the virus.
As MSNBC‘s Brian Williams noted during live coverage of the ceremony, the balcony that served as the backdrop of Biden’s event on Monday was the same location where Trump held his post-COVID hospitalization photo op last October.
“It was as much a celebration of [Trump’s] successful treatment as it was anything else,” Williams said of the former president’s stunt. “Missing from that event, any note, any mention of the loss we remember today.”
President Biden held a White House ceremony to mark 500,000 American COVID deaths at the same spot where Trump held his post-hospitalization photo op. pic.twitter.com/icA1f4JsJs
— PoliticusUSA (@politicususa) February 23, 2021
I’m duty-bound to remember one of the last times there was this much live television attention – I am guessing your mind went there too – on the South Portico. … Think of the live coverage of his return from the hospital. The people who know him and know medicine noticed he was oxygen-starved by the time he got to the top of the steps where he triumphantly pulled off his mask and walked unmasked into the residence of the White House to shoot a video in that moment. It was as much a celebration of his successful treatment as it was anything else. Missing from that event, any note, any mention of the loss we remember today.
Biden honors 500K Americans in a way Trump never could
Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic will forever be a stain on his presidency and this country. It is likely that thousands of Americans died because of his negligence and incompetence.
Nearly as bad is the fact that not once did Trump sincerely acknowledge the staggering loss over which he presided. Instead of properly mourning with the rest of the country, he repeatedly downplayed the pandemic.
By holding events like this, Joe Biden isn’t only showing that he has the empathy that Americans should expect from a president, but he’s also scrubbing the Trump stain off the White House, little by little.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.