Transcript for Remembering the lives lost to COVID-19
And there was something president Biden said that struck us. It's something we have reported on often here, that not only have lives been lost, loved ones taken too soon. So have the rituals, he said. The rituals that help us grieve, so many have died alone at the hospital without proper services, for others to pay their respects. So, tonight here, we try to do that by telling some of their stories. It was an unthinkable number when this pandemic started. 500,000 American lives lost. In Alabama, alfonzia "Aj" Jackson was just 35 years old. A father to Alivia and aria. Proudly doing their hair, playing nail salon when they wanted to. Dance parties with his girls. His wife Ashley on how she explained this to her daughters. Ou know how granny's an angel? She's like, yeah. I said, well, daddy went to go to be one, too. That's the crying you don't want, as a parent, to hear. There have been so many husbands and wives dying together. Dick and Shirley meek from Ohio had just celebrated 70 years of marriage. Every day without fail, their 3:00 P.M. Date together. They died in each other's arms, holding hands. In Phoenix, Sally and Manny Montano. They met as teenagers. Manny on leave from Vietnam. They died just seconds apart. Just that love that they had for each other. That's all I knew. Their family later finding letters, birthday cards, Valentines they'd written to each other over the years. Family is so important. You got to keep them close. You got to love them unconditionally. In San Antonio, Makenzie Gongora was just 9 years old in the fourth grade. She called me aunt Vicky. It had like this little whimsical lilt to it, like a little fairy saying my name. In Arlington, Texas, Helen etluk was just 20 years old. Studying to be a pediatrician. And her mother told us something we've heard so often along the way here. Family members picking up the phone to call loved ones before remembering they're gone. Today, I called her. I just called her thinking she was there. And then when I realized and I stopped, she wasn't around. Captain Eric segura of Laredo, Texas, was just 35. A 20-year veteran of the fire department, on the front lines, an ems in this pandemic. His fellow firefighters honoring him. In South Carolina, Ashley Bennett. She had just given birth to Eliza, meeting her baby girl just once. Touching her arm. That's the only time she ever got to see her in person, which breaks my heart, because Ashley -- being a mother was Ashley's favorite thing in life. Theodore "Ted" lumpkin was a tuskegee airman. An intelligence officer during World War II serving his country. And with hopes it would make a difference back home. We prayed hard that that our success would be very instrumental in the improvement of race relations in the country. He was recognized with the congressional gold medal. Ted lumpkin was 100 years old. Sue Braley from Davenport, Florida,. Over 20 years, they were foster parents to more than 300 children. And they would go on to adopt seven of them. She told me, Kerry, it's not like I want to be a mom all over again, but she said, we have a home and we have love to give. So why not? Nelson Cheng owned the carvel ice cream shop in yardville, New Jersey for 32 years. He knew everyone's name and their favorite ice cream. He probably knew their cars and their home address, and what they had for dinner the night before. There are now messages on the windows. He was like a dad to me. Hi, everyone, I'm Mr. Seitz. And in North Carolina, Jamie Seitz. He was a teacher and coach for 25 years. Jamie was just everything. His wife, Liz. He lit up the room. He was just such a force of happiness and compassion and true goodness. And he was so fun to be around. You got to sing! He didn't act like a rock star, but people followed him like one. Jamie coached basketball and golf, an athlete himself. Number 22. And his family told us that while at the hospital fighting covid, he gathered the strength to make one last shot. There we go! His school and the vigil for their beloved coach. And Jay knee in his own words. In 25 years of teaching, I'm so thank. And honored of the thousands of students I've had the privilege to coach and teach. But mostly thankful for my immediate family, who I love and adore daily. Love you. We have reported on so many families this past year and we promise we will keep at it so that their loved ones are remembered and so that we all remember that thesell numbers are families forever changed. We do move onto the other
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