A memorial service was held in the State Capitol Rotunda on Sunday, to honor over 10,000 Kentuckians who have lost their lives to COVID-19, and the winning design for a permanent memorial on the Capitol grounds was also unveiled.
Despite the dreary weather which forced the memorial to be moved indoors, dozens of people turned out for the event.
During his remarks, Gov. Andy Beshear noted, “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. Right now, more than 10,000 of our neighbors are gone, and their loved ones are hurting, missing them, preparing for their first or second Thanksgiving with an empty seat at the table.”
He continued, “Our war against COVID is different in many ways from the wars fought by our brave soldiers. But to achieve our ultimate victory, we must have the same urgency, unity and dedication to one another.”
Another speaker was Jacqueline Woodward, who lost her husband to COVID-19, and called this a devastating time for so many.
“I have endured the greatest tragedy of my lifetime because my husband of 45 years, Gary, is no longer at my side,” she said. “The heartache, pain and the grief is beyond what words can explain. I am here today not only for my family and me, but also for all the families that have lost loved ones across the state of Kentucky. Those loved ones and I will forever have a bond that will connect us, as we move on the new journey of life together — remembering the loved ones that meant so much to us and gave so
much to Kentucky.”
During the ceremony, the governor announced that Kentucky-native Amanda Matthews, artist and chief executive officer of Lexington-based Prometheus Foundry, has been commissioned to create the permanent Team Kentucky COVID-19 Memorial, which will be located in Monument Park on the Capitol grounds.
A COVID-19 Memorial Advisory Panel, which included health care heroes, family members and loved ones of those lost, as well as COVID-19 survivors, selected the final design for the memorial.
“As a Kentucky native, Amanda’s pride and compassion for the people of the commonwealth and for the struggles so many have faced during the pandemic shine brightly from her personally and through this work,” Beshear stated. “This piece will be expertly crafted, illustrating Kentuckians’ willingness to come together for each other during this pandemic.”
The memorial, titled “United We Stand, Divided We Fall,” will honor Kentucky’s losses and sacrifices since March 2020 and remind future generations of the challenges Kentuckians overcame together.