Memorial Day, which became an official national holiday in 1971, was created to honor Americans who died in military service, some 1.1. million people since the nation’s founding. But it feels appropriate to use the day this year – as it did last year — also to honor those who have died from the current pandemic.
Indeed, in the year since the last Memorial Day, the number of people who have died from COVID-19 has increased more than six-fold – 594,431 as of this morning, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
That’s more Americans who have died in any war, including the most lethal, the Civil War, in which 498,332 Americans are said to have died – and those deaths occurred over four years, while the deaths from the current pandemic have been in just 14 months.
It also seems fitting, on this 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, to honor those Americans who have died from racism. On May 31 and June 1, 1921, a white mob killed hundreds of Black people and completely destroyed the prosperous neighborhood in which they resided, Greenwood,
It’s worth remembering as well that Memorial Day is officially observed on the last Monday of May — which last year was May 25, the day George Floyd was in Minneapolis.