An evening ceremony will take place on Tuesday, June 8, to begin a drive asking the public to participate in an interactive memorial at Green-Wood Cemetery for those who died during the COVID pandemic.
Entitled “We Remember: A Community COVID Memorial,” the memorial is located on 200 feet of the cemetery’s fence along Fifth Avenue at 25th Street. The cemetery’s current campaign will last through June 28.
The memorial consists of thousands of nameplates with personalized drawings as well as photos from the families and friends of those who have lost loved ones during the pandemic.
Green-Wood is inviting the public to create their own nameplates for the memorial.
“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 Richard J. Moylan, president of Green-Wood. “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.”
Nearly 600,000 people in the United States, including more than 52,000 here in New York City, died due to the virus.
Since May of last year, a local group called Naming the Lost Memorials has maintained the site. It has become a place for locals to receive some comfort during difficult times and losses of loved ones. The recent announcement by the cemetery itself seeks to make people more aware of the site.
“When I went to the memorial yesterday, I felt sad because I placed a picture of my very good friend up,” Sunset Park resident Margaret Ann, who lost a friend due to COVID-19 and who didn’t give a last name, said last year.
“She was like a sister. Her name was Antoinette Ventola. I have been friends with her since she was 5 years old. She was born and raised and still lived in Sunset Park. After I left the memorial, I felt at peace that I was able to pay tribute to my beautiful friend who I am going to miss always,” she said.
More than 20 community-based organizations have come together to contribute names and to create nameplates for the memorial.
The evening ceremony, which will take place between 6 and 8 p.m., will feature music, poetry reading, drum call, placement of candles and people creating and adding a nameplate to the memorial.
“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,” said artist and member of Naming the Lost Memorials Kay Turner.
“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,” she added.
For more information, visit namingthelost.com/memorials.