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White flag installation marks 670,000 U.S. dead from COVID-19

White flag installation marks 670,000 U.S. dead from COVID-19
More than 600,000 flags representing one life lost each to COVID-19 in the United States stand on the National Mall as part of "In America: Remember," a public art installation by artist Suzanne Firstenberg at the base of the Washington Monument in Washington, DC., on Tuesday. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 21 (UPI) -- Hundreds of thousands of small, white flags are lining the grounds of the National Mall to honor the more than 670,000 people who have died of COVID-19 in the United States.

The art installation, In America: Remember by Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg, will be on display in the public space through Oct. 3 to symbolize the enormity of the nation's loss.

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"It's really hard to think about the grief that is just embodied by one flag," Firstenberg told ABC News this week. "And when as you walk amongst 660,000, it's unimaginable the pain that people have gone through."

The installation comes one year after a similar memorial featured some 200,000 U.S. flags on the National Mall to mark that milestone death toll. The toll has more than tripled and on Monday surpassed that of the 1918 influenza pandemic.

Firstenberg told NPR she was inspired to create her installation in March 2020, when Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said Americans should risk getting the novel coronavirus in order to keep the economy open.

"That really disturbed me," she said. "I just felt as though someone had to do something to make a statement that with all these people dying, we had to value each of these lives as well."

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