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National COVID-19 memorial encourages unity while honoring 400,000 American lives

On Tuesday, the United States will hit the grim milestone of 400,000 lives lost to COVID-19. On that same day, a national memorial will be held.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — As of Tuesday morning, more than 399,000 Americans have died from COVID-19. The number is expected to hit 400,000 by the end of the day. Those lives will be honored during a national COVID-19 memorial happening the same day.

“We just need to stop, pause, reflect and memorialize those lives that we have lost," Memphis City Councilwoman Michalyn Easter-Thomas said.

Easter-Thomas helped lead efforts for Memphis to join the national memorial. On Tuesday night, the Hernando de Soto Bridge will light up red, white and blue in partnership with Mighty Lights.

It will also be a moment to remember the 1,140 lives lost in Shelby County in the last year due to COVID-19.

"I’m sure we can safely say that everyone has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic whether they’ve lost a loved one, a spouse, a sibling, a friend and I just think we need to stop and pause and think about that," Easter-Thomas said.

The national memorial was put together by President-elect Joe Biden's inaugural committee. It comes the day before his inauguration. WATCH HERE.

In a statement, the committee said the inauguration represents a new national journey but before embarking on that, it was important to remember those that were lost as as the country tries to unite and end the pandemic and then rebuild.

In D.C. at 5:30 p.m. (4:30 p.m. central time), there will be a lighting ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. The committee asked cities and towns across the country to join them at 5:30 p.m. with lighting ceremonies of their own or acts of unity.

People, nationally, are encouraged to light candles in memory or light up city buildings in the color "amber".

Chicago's skyline will dark for several minutes tonight and encourage its citizens to light candles. Churches will ring their bells to reflect the number of people lost in their communities.

“[This is] a constant reminder why we mask up, why we’re socially distance, why our kids are not in school, why we are constantly encouraging and supporting our healthcare workers and first responders," Easter-Thomas said. "We aren’t done. This pandemic is not done, We just need to make sure that we can do the best we can and if all you can do is mask up and stay home then we ask that you do that.

For more details on the memorial, click here.