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COVID-19 victims remembered on Washington’s National Mall with 650,000 white flags By Reuters


© Reuters. Bicycle rider passes an exhibit of white flags that represent Americans who have lost their battle with coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which is located on 20 acres of Washington’s National Mall. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – An exhibition of white flags representing Americans who have died of COVID-19 opened on Friday, covering more than 20 acres of the National Mall in Washington.

Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg, an artist from Washington created an outdoor installation last year that featured more than 267,000 white flags. Each flag represented a person who died of COVID-19 in America.

Her work has been reinterpreted this year. There are now 650,000 flags on the National Mall.

As she watched the construction of it on Wednesday, she stated that “when numbers get too large, it becomes difficult for people to comprehend them.”

Firstenberg said during Friday’s opening ceremony that “taken holistically this is a tangible manifestation of empathy.”

The exhibit, “In America: Remember”, will stay on display until October 3, 2021.

According to artist’s website, it features 43 sections with white flags, 3.8 miles (6 kilometers) of walking trails, and white benches for visitors to stop and reflect.

You can also dedicate a flag individually to someone you love to COVID-19.

You can lift your eyes if you just take one flag and reflect on all of the pain that it represents. Firstenberg said that flags were meant to be likened to Arlington National Cemetery’s headstones.

The thousands of flags were hand-installed by Firstenberg’s teams over several days.

Firstenberg said that she was deeply touched and inspired by the response from the public.

Firstenberg explained that she was so determined to place all the flags and help people understand. However, once people started to lay their own grievances on top of her art, it turned into overwhelming.

According to her website, this year’s exhibit is the most participatory artwork on the National Mall in over a decade since the AIDS Quilt was presented.

Firstenberg believes that the exhibition this year will allow Americans to reflect on the impact of the coronavirus epidemic.

She said that there were moments when she wanted to be by myself with the flags when I did my first iteration. Because I needed to be alone with my flags last fall when I first started this iteration of the art.

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