Kentucky Stories of Loss
Blessing at Memorial Ceremony, 11/14/21
Who did you lose to Covid 19? More than 10,200 Kentuckians
Dedication of Space:
Covid-19 Memorial—KY State Capitol, November 14, 2021
Our fellow Americans in Indiana and Illinois would like to claim President Abraham Lincoln for their very own. We in the Bluegrass State know better. He was born here in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and he understood the depths of death and loss-- borne of disease and division as so many of us Kentuckians do. So, it seems “fitting and proper” to borrow from his words at Gettysburg, dedicating a national cemetery, to today’s purpose of dedicating a space to those throughout our state who have died of this terrible disease, that has tragically become not only a health crisis but a political one as well. The powerful words he uttered in 1865 still speak to us now.
…In a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.
The space dedicated to those who have perished from this pandemic makes no distinction between the political party, race, religion, sexuality, gender, economic class or vaccination status of COVID-19’s victims. It is a space for all Kentuckians who died from the disease. The sacred task before us, is to heed the cry of brothers and sisters blood calling to us from the ground to be united in something other than death. The number of 10,000 means precious little unless 10,000 lives stopped short, dreams cut of, hopes unrealized compels us to get past our differences and unite for the common good of our state, our nation and our world. If we learn nothing from this pandemic than we have failed to understand Lincoln’s charge at Gettysburg, failed to honor the memory of our departed and failed to appreciate the blessing of being fortunate enough to survive. If 10,000 deaths do nothing to change the choices we make, the priorities we set, the initiatives we invest in, then shamefully, we will indeed stand guilty of the terrible sin of letting our beloved die in vain. Rather, let us resolve as our slain President, our fallen Captain, our great leader would have us do: to take on the unfinished work, advance the great task, and dedicate ourselves to the sacred cause of building a state, a nation and a world, where no one goes hungry, no one is homeless, everyone is educated, and health care is a human right.
As we dedicate this space today let us re-dedicate ourselves to the values, ideals and principals that unite us as Kentuckians, Americans, and human beings. May this be our blessing and let us say: Amen.