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Nearly 30,000 New Yorkers have died since COVID-19 touched down in the city one year ago.
And while a patchwork of painters, poets and everyday citizens have honored the dead in their own way, and the city plans a small memorial vigil next week, New Yorkers wonder when a transcendent touchstone to the tragedy — a soaring monument to the dead and the heroic — will emerge.
Around the world and the US, vast monuments and memorials are being proposed, planned and built. In New York, the epicenter of the plague that killed more than 500,000 Americans, only vague and limited visions for local tributes — one at a former New Jersey dump, another on abandoned Hart Island in the East River — have surfaced.
As the city approaches March 14 — the anniversary of the first NYC death from the coronavirus — officials have yet to even convene committees that will hash out ideas for a memorial, a project experts say is key to processing the tragedy.
“Memorials provide society a place to put the grief, a space where we know the lives lost will not be forgotten” said Alice Greenwald, who heads the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. “That’s why the 9/11 memorial and museum are now part of the fabric of our city.”
In Brazil, a 128-foot long undulating steel sculpture was erected in September at a Rio de Janeiro cemetery were many COVID-19 casualties were buried. The names of 4,000 of the deceased are to be etched in the metal. By May 2020, as the pandemic still raged, the residents of Madrid could visit a black steel sculpture with an eternal flame across from a government center.
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