From June 8 to June 28, a new memorial at Green-Wood Cemetery will honor the more than 52,000 New Yorkers who have already died from the COVID-19 pandemic. The new installation — titled ‘WE REMEMBER: A COMMUNITY COVID MEMORIAL’ — features images, nameplates, and other items along a 200 feet stretch of the iron gate at the Cemetery’s iconic entrance on Fifth Avenue and 25th Street.
Naming the Lost Memorials, a nonprofit that has organized previous COVID-19 memorials in New York City, worked in collaboration with Green-Wood Cemetery to bring WE REMEMBER to life. The cemetery also partnered with over 20 local organizations to help promote and finance the memorial, including Brooklyn Roots, Flushing Town Hall, the Worker Justice Project, Hebrew Tabernacle, and the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs.
“All of us at Green-Wood have seen, firsthand, the toll that COVID-19 has taken on family, friends, our community, and even our industry,” said Kay Turner, an artist, folklorist, and team member at Naming the Lost Memorials. “This beautiful living memorial gives us a special place to remember what they meant to us and how they each made this world a better place.”
Turner continued: “Even as New Yorkers begin to feel the joys of opening, the pandemic rages on in other parts of the world. It’s not over. Nor is the sense of loss we feel knowing that 600,000 of our loved ones in the United States are gone from us. Mourning and remembrance are still necessary acts. Naming those lost to COVID-19 must continue. Our memorial at Green-Wood provides a place to do just that.”
WE REMEMBER functions as an interactive exhibit. Community members and passerby are encouraged to create their own nameplates to add to the ever-growing memorial wall.
Unfortunately, the opening ceremony that was planned for the memorial was cancelled due to weather, yet Green-Wood still hopes to organize candle lightings, name readings, and other events down the road.
Green-Wood Cemetery experienced a dramatic increase in burials and cremations during the pandemic’s heights last spring and summer. The volume of deaths was so great that the cemetery was forced to institute a partial cap on the number of cremations it would allow within a day. Although case numbers and deaths continue to decrease, the staff at Green-Wood Cemetery has remained extremely busy since the pandemic’s start.
For more information on the memorial, visit https://namingthelost.com/memorials/.