Memorial to COVID-19 Deaths: White Flags of Innocence, Not Surrender

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Artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg of Bethesda changes the number of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. on Halloween. Georgetowner photo.

At first glance, it looks like snow has suddenly covered the D.C. Armory Parade Ground at 2001 East Capitol St. SE in front of RFK Stadium. But then, with a bit of a shudder, you realize they are hundreds of thousands of carefully placed small white flags. You see the stark sign in front, proclaiming in huge letters: “IN AMERICA How could this happen …”

The number 229,675 jumps out — and is increasing every hour.

“Innocent victims. That’s why I decided on white flags to honor them,” said artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg of Bethesda, Maryland, who changes the numerals on the sign regularly. She also has experience as a hospice volunteer. Ruppert Landscape donated its skills to get the installation started.

Here is a visually intelligent and stunning memorial to the victims of COVID-19 in the United States — with permits from Events DC, which controls the space.

By the time you read this, Firstenberg will have changed those six digits, according to the latest statistics from Johns Hopkins University medical experts.

Volunteers will have given out more flags to visitors, many of whom will write the names of friends and family members who have died from the infection. Their flags will be added to the ever-filling green.

“The exhibit ends Nov. 4, but we hope to keep it open for another week,” Firstenberg said.

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