White Flags on the National Mall in Washington, DC. It’s a site we never thought we’d see, but then the world in which we find ourselves is no longer the world we knew before the pandemic. 687,167 on the day we saw the flags. It’s a staggering number. A staggering loss.
White Flags on the National Mall
Inspired by artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg, and titled, “In America: Remember” each flag placed over 20 acres represents a loss of a life brought on by Covid-19.
- “I wanted to focus on my message. I didn’t purposefully start out to do a large-scale installation. My outrage led me.” Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg
To put it more bluntly, and to drive home the point, that staggering number of 687,167 is a death tally. A death tally that increases daily, and yet people continue to deny the reality, or to wear a simple mask. I’m not going to sugar coat it. The polarization and the politicalization of the virus in the US is beyond extraordinary and not in a good way. It’s infuriating and it’s heartbreaking.
Messages of Loss
As mentioned, each white flags represents the loss of a life. Messages are written on the flags and to read them is to feel the loss. Personal messages of love and sorrow, and the depth of the emotion is heart-wrenching. To have lost so many and for those who died while alone, the emotional toll on those who loved and cared for them is unimaginable.
A Sea of White
In full disclosure we very much wanted to experience this temporary art installation on the National Mall. However, on the morning of our planned visit, I almost talked myself out of going. It felt overwhelming and tragic, and truthfully, it makes me angry. But, like so many of our travel experiences, some places are just difficult to experience, but we need to pay respect and honor those who left this earth too soon. It’s not a bad thing at all to push oneself out of ones comfort zone, to take on what won’t be easy.
The sea of white was indeed overwhelming, and yet, it was beautifully symbolic. As we approached the National Mall we could certainly see the field of flags, but it wasn’t until we were well-centered in the 20-acre expanse of flags did it take our breath away. It happened to be a blustery day and to see nearly 700,000 small white flags waving in unison was somehow peaceful in its simplicity; a sea of white.
May we all soon find peace and healing from this seemingly relentless pandemic.