LONDON — Paula Smith couldn’t hold back her tears as she faced a sea of hand-painted red hearts covering a wall along the River Thames, each unique, each representing someone who died of Covid-19 in Britain.
With the tears welling in her eyes, Ms. Smith got back to work painting dozens more hearts on the memorial wall as passers-by stopped to watch. One heart was larger than the others, and on it she wrote in black letters: “Frank Stevens 1941–2020” — a tribute to her 78-year-old father, who died last April.
“Look at how many people we’ve lost,” said Ms. Smith, 49, who was wearing a vest that read The National Covid Memorial Wall, as she took a step back to look at her work, sobbing behind her protective mask. “We keep talking about numbers, but each heart is a person.”
As European countries crossed the anniversary of the first coronavirus deaths and lockdown restrictions in recent weeks, memorials have sprung up across the continent to pay tribute to those lost to Covid-19.
The initiative that stretches along the southern bank of the Thames in London may be one of the most significant efforts to date.
Bereaved families have filled a 6.5-foot-high wall with thousands of hearts that they say will eventually contain around 150,000, each for a person with Covid-19 marked on a death certificate in Britain. The country has so far recorded just over 149,000 such deaths, the largest toll in Europe and the fifth highest in the world.
The group behind the initiative, Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, said it hoped to put personal stories at the heart of the national narrative on the pandemic.
You could find more about this article on the website nytimes.com HERE – Author: Elian Peltier
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