Governor Andy Beshear held a memorial service on Sunday for the 10,214 Kentuckians lost to COVID-19.
First Lady Britainy Beshear, Lieutenant Governor Jacqueline Coleman, religious leaders, health heroes, singers from Lindsey Wilson College and the Kentucky State Police Honor Guard also took part in the service. .
“The number of Kentuckians lost to COVID is approaching the total number of our people we lost in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War combined,” Beshear said. “Right now, over 10,000 of our neighbors are gone, and their loved ones are suffering, missing, preparing for their first or second Thanksgiving with an empty seat at the table.”
“Our war on COVID is different in many ways from the wars waged by our brave soldiers. But to achieve our ultimate victory, we must have the same urgency, the same unity and the same dedication to each other. “
This week, the governor and the lieutenant governor encouraged all eligible vaccinated adults in Kentucky to receive one of three COVID-19 vaccination boosters – Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson – to increase their immunity and help end to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other people who spoke at the memorial included Dr. Philip Overall of St. Claire Regional Medical Center in Morehead; Jamar Wattley, PRN, RN, at Baptist Health La Grange; and Jacqueline Woodward, who lost her husband, Gary Woodward, to COVID-19.
“Together we gave everything we had for the men, women and children of the Commonwealth of Nations. Together, we held their hands, prayed with them, gave them hope and worked tirelessly to provide them with the best possible care. Even during the darkest days of this pandemic, even during the peak of the outbreaks – we stuck together, ”said Dr Overall. “Let us remember that it is this unity that will see it through and find us united as we work to put this battle behind us.”
“We are here to remember the 10,000 Kentuckians who succumbed to COVID. As a nurse, these numbers mean something to me. These numbers represent the people I have cared for and the memories I have with them, ”Wattley said. “May this memorial symbolize a time when we were afraid and uncertain we all faced – but better yet – may this memorial honor the bravery of the dead. “
“Today is a bittersweet day as we come together to honor the memory of all those who have lost a loved one to COVID-19. Ten thousand. How overwhelming a number and how devastating it has been for so many people. I have endured the greatest tragedy of my life because my husband of 45 years, Gary, is no longer by my side, ”said Jacqueline Woodward. “Heartache, pain and heartbreak are beyond what words can explain. I am here today not only for my family and I, but also for all the families who have lost loved ones in the state of Kentucky. These loved ones and I will forever have a bond that connects us as we move forward together on life’s new journey – remembering the loved ones who have meant so much to us and given so much to Kentucky. “
During today’s ceremony, the Governor announced that Amanda Matthews, a Kentucky native, artist and general manager of Lexington-based Prometheus Foundry, has been tasked with creating the Team Kentucky COVID-19 permanent memorial, which will be located at Monument Park in Kentucky. State Capitol Park.
A COVID-19 Memorial Advisory Committee, which included health heroes, family members and loved ones of the lost and COVID-19 survivors, selected the final design for the memorial.
“As a native of Kentucky, Amanda’s pride and compassion for the people of the Commonwealth and for the struggles so many people have faced during the pandemic shines on its own and through this work,” said Beshear. “This coin will be expertly crafted, illustrating the Kentuckians’ willingness to come together during this pandemic. “
The commemorative artwork – titled “United We Stand. Divided we fall. ”- will commemorate the losses and sacrifices of the Kentucky team since March 2020 and remind future generations of the challenges Kentuckians have overcome – together.
The governor said healthcare partners including Norton Healthcare, Baptist Health, St. Elizabeth Healthcare, King’s Daughters Health System, UofL Health, UK Healthcare and Pikeville Medical Center are sponsoring the new monument, which is also supported by donations to the Kentucky COVID-19 Team Memorial Fund. All donations are tax deductible.
“All of us – whether or not we’ve lost someone close to COVID – have been forever changed by these times,” Beshear said. “I believe that in order to move forward and seize the opportunities that we see open up across this Commonwealth, we must fully respect this moment in history which has tested us in a way that little many people could have imagined just two years ago. “