Biden honors those lost to COVID-19

President Joe Biden held a moment of silence as the United States marked 500,000 deaths due to the pandemic.
17:39 | 02/23/21

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Transcript for Biden honors those lost to COVID-19
This is an ABC news special report. Now reported. And good evening were coming on just a bit earlier than normal with breaking news at this hour America reaching a sobering milestone late today more than 500000. Lives now lost to the court a virus pandemic. President Biden is expected to speak at any moment paying tribute to those lost to the virus the president issuing a proclamation a moment ago saying on the solemn occasion. We reflect on their loss let's listen to the president. He stated. I receive a small card in my pocket. I carry through my schedule. This shows the number of Americans have been effective. Fire or died from cove in nineteen. Today we mark K it truly groom. Heartbreaking milestone. 500071. Did. That's more Americans. Who died in one year's pandemic. And immoral war Warren. Forward to the Vietnam War combined. That's more lives lost. It is buyers than any other nation on earth. Ministry knowledge is scale of this massive death. In America. Remember each person. The life they lived. For people we knew. Are people we feel like we knew. Read the obituaries remember issues. The son who calls mom every night just to check in the father's. Daughter. Who lit up his world. The best friend who's always there. The nurse. Nurse and nurses. At the nurse. Who made her patients want to live. I was in just in Kalamazoo Michigan. At the Pfizer vaccine manufacturing facility. There are met and Alan I walked in whose father will always done new virus. He was sat. I ask you like you call his father in law. He says father in law was too sick to speak. But that he said but could I pray for him. Could I pray for an. We almost someone. Fellow Americans who live lives of struggle. Purpose and hope. Who talked related and might. About their dreams. Who wore the uniform want to serve. Who loved playing always offered a hand. We often hear people described as an ordinary Americans there's no such thing there's nothing ordinary about found. The people we lost were extraordinary. They spanned generations. Born in America emigrated to America. But just like that so many of them. Took their final breath alone. In America. Fascination. We can't accept such a cruel fate. While we are fighting this pandemic for so long. We have to resist becoming known to the sorrow. We after resistant. Viewing each life passes to see it as a statistic or war are on the news. We must do so don't honor the dead. But equally important care for the lives he knows left behind. For the loved ones left behind. I know all too well. I know it's like to not be here. When it happens. I'm enormous light when you are there. Holding their hands. Looking Ryan who slip away. That black cool. In your chest you feel like you being sucked into it. The survivor's remorse he anger. The questions of faith in your soul. For someone here is spent a year. Look we can day even hour. And I know that when you stairs and empty chair. I'm the kitchen table. The present all backed no matter how long though it happened as if it just happened that moment in the community chair. Or birthdays. To anniversaries and holidays without them. The everyday things too small things that tiny tanks. That you missed the most that sense when you open the closet. At park who by the used to stroll. That movie theater or you met. Who. The morning coffee shared together. The bad news smile. The perfect pitch to her laugh. RC letter from her daughter. Whose father died Covert nineteen an Easter Sunday last year. She and her children his grandchildren. And our land this season. Season reflection and renewal. With heavy hearts. Unable to properly mourn she asked do you letter what. Wars are lost among so many others. Well if that's what has been so cruel. So many in the rituals. That help us cope. That help us honor those we loved. Had been available to us. The final righteous family gathered around. Or proper home growing. Showered him stories you love. Tribal leaders passing out the final traditions. Of sacred cultures on sacred lands. As a nation. We cannot. And we must not let this go on. That's right to date reform our inauguration. Occur over ninety memorial. Reflecting pool and the National Mall I sent to heal. Tissue we must remember. I know it's hard I promise you I know it's hard I remember. That's how you he'll you have to remember. And it's also it's important to do that as a nation. Those who have lost loved ones. This what I know. They're never truly gone. To always be party your heart. I know this as well. Who seemed unbelievable. But I prom issue. The day will come. No memory of the loved when you lost and bring a smile new lips before it tear here. It will come my publisher. My prayers for you though is that they won't come sooner rather than later. And that's would you know. You're gonna be okay. There's going to be okay. And for me. The way through. Sorrow and grief. As defined purpose. And how many is loss of someone awhile ago Warner this year she proudly. Does that they normally do. I notice how I feel. We can find purpose. Purpose worthy who lives they lived. Warrior country real. So today. I ask all Americans through. Remember those we lost. Those who left behind. It has remember. As we all remember. I also ask is to act. To remain vigilant. Two safes stay socially distant. To mascot. Get factually when it's your turn. We must end the politics misinformation is to find families. Communities in the country. This cost too many lives already. It's true. Democrats Republicans or in kind from the virus. It's our fellow Americans is our neighbors our friends. Our mothers or fathers or sons or daughters. Husbands wives. We have to fight this together. As one people. As the United States of America. As soon Myrna beaches fires are probably should. Doing great despair more pain and more lost the only way. He's no stone should no longer remark earned national morning news milestones precious I don't want no more remote than. Mark Karr national board. But to stop your story of how far we felt. And how far we climb back up. We confuses. Pretty this year profound loss. Received profound courage. From all of you on the front lines. I know the stress and trauma degree few carry. But you give us hope. You keep this going. We remind us and we do take care for our own. To leave nobody behind. And while we've been humbled. We have never given up. We are America. We can and will do this. Just a few minutes. To and I. Common dug. A hole moment of silence here in the White House. The people's house your house. We ask you to join us. To remember. So we can you. Define purpose. And work ahead. To show that there is life in the darkness. This nation will smile again. This nation will most sunny day secure. This nation will know join again. And as we do. Well remembered each person we've lost. Four lives they lived. And loved ones are left behind. We will get through this I probably should. My heart HT those you are going through right now. May god bless you all. Particularly those who won't some. Accomplish. And there you have it president Biden at the White House talking about that staggering loss this country has faced and just the last year. He said we've lost more people than we lost in World War I world war two and the Vietnam War all combined. More lives lost than any other nation on earth and he said remember each person. And of life that they lived. Our chief White House correspondents a sort of pick up watching along with me in Sicilian. There was so much talk before the election that if Joseph Biden were elected he would be the comforter in chief he would not. Height his own pain from the American people and trying to help them get through this. You could see it on his face stricter David this is a president who is. Deeply and profoundly moved by what is happening in our country today what has let up to this moment because this is a man who. In his heart has lived through this that this is not he's not just words this is someone who knows. Profoundly. What grief and loss is he lost his wife he lost his young daughter he lost his son. Just a few years ago to brain cancer. When you speak to people who know Joseph Biden they tell you this is. Who can speak with. Compassion that someone who understands in his soul. What it means to lose a family member and when he tells you the American. Public tonight that he knows what that feeling is like to look out and see an empty chair at that dinner table he's speaking from experience and he also said David. There will comment time. When you will smile and remembering these people that we have lost the smile will come before the tear and he knows that in speaking through personal experience. Cecilia thank you and where their eyes trained on the south portico there we are awaiting the president the First Lady. The vice president the second gentleman leading the nation in a moment of silence to honor those who've been lost. The president also recognizing that. You must also rally a nation even more were in the middle of all of this he's that I ask Americans to remember those who were lost but I also ask you to pat. To continue to social distance to Wear masks to get vaccinated. If and when it becomes available we all know that delays across this country and certainly the storms of the last week have only added to the challenge. But he made a point of speaking to the front line workers to heroes the families who lost loved ones and he said you give us hope. You keep us going and doctor Jan Ashton a year ago you and I came on the air but just those early numbers. David if this is. This milestone it is simply inconceivable. To had been reached in net I just about a year. To put this into medical context at various points. In the last year. Cold it nineteen related deaths have been the leading cause of death in the United States. We are at or around the number of people who die every year from heart disease and cancer. And I was so happy to hear president Biden used the exact and latest number. 500007. He won at least Colvin related deaths. I mean it is every single one of those is a life David not a statistic not a number. And it's our job to help remember. Each and every one of those lives the best we can. The moment of silence amid the 500 candles. Mentor percent to 500000. American lives lost. Oh. Or. A. The president. The First Lady the vice president and the second gentleman heading back into the White House. After marking that moment. We know the bells tolling epic national cathedral 500 times also were present. That 500000 mark minister and Ashton pointed out the presidents of 571000. Lives made a point of getting it down to the number even though we know that number increases. Likely even as we've been on the air. One other note president Biden has also ordered flags be flown at half staff on federal grounds until sunset on February 26 for the next several days and our country. To pay respects and there you see the flag there at the White House. We are going to take a moment on world news tonight this evening to honor those who've been lost and interview the families who have been brave enough to come forward to share their stories so we'll see for that shortly. In the meantime we continue our coverage and ABC news live on your local news and I'll see was short time from now on world news tonight. This has been a special report from ABC.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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