There is a covid memorial wall in London, along the south bank of the Thames, facing Parliament and Big Ben. Fittingly, it is right outside of St. Thomas Hospital, where the Florence Nightingale Museum is.
This was a top item on my to-do list in London.
And it took us two different tube lines to get here.
Originally we were going to take the Central line to the Jubilee line. But there was a fire at Southwark and the Jubilee line was closed. We had to reroute and take a different line. But the beauty of the Tube system is that there is always more than 1 way to get somewhere.
My husband was not sure that this was somewhere we had to go. His exact words were “I don’t want to go to a memorial to people whose genetics failed them.”
I quickly disabused him of that notion. These were people who had died of covid in the UK. This was through no fault of their own. Blame should not be assigned for their deaths. The UK was locked hard and fast. And their rules were more stringent than the US.
I felt it important to go to the covid wall and bear witness as a nurse who has lived and worked through it.
There are pink and red hearts all along the wall and people are invited to write in them. Many people wrote names of loved ones who died. There were 150,000 hearts originally. As of today, 8/17/22, the death toll of the UK is 186,798.
So many hearts.
The wall extends over 500 meters, or over a third of a mile. And was begun in March 2021.
It was awe inspiring. This is not an authorized memorial. This was campaigned for and done by the group ‘Led by Donkeys’.
I hope that the incoming Prime Minister, when one is chosen, will allow this memorial wall to stay.
It was peaceful. Facing the water. People coming up and reading the hearts. The only thing that I can compare it to is the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. For reference, there were 57,939 inscribed on that wall at the time it was dedicated.
The covid wall was sobering. All those lives lost. All those families changed forever.
It was defeating. It feels as if we could have done better.
Of course, I passed an anti-vaxxer protesting in Whitehall on the way to the covid wall.
How are we going to explain this to future generations?
What will be the final memorial? Not just here in the UK, but in the US, and around the world as well.