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Bells at Washington National Cathedral toll for U.S. lives lost to COVID-19

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Here's one of the ways that Americans have marked the death toll from COVID, which is now over 700,000 people in the United States.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The National Cathedral here in Washington, D.C., yesterday rang a bell for each thousand people lost.

JAN NAYLOR: Every death, every person is worthy of our remembrance and our grieving.

INSKEEP: Reverend Jan Naylor of Washington National Cathedral says the church has done this each time the death toll goes up another 100,000.

NAYLOR: We would never have imagined we would be here at 200,000, 300,000, 400,000, 500,000, 600,000 and today at 700,000. It's just heartbreaking.

MARTIN: For more than an hour, the cathedral's bells rang out across the nation's capital and virtually through a livestream.

NAYLOR: It's incredibly important that we not become numb to the magnitude of the loss of each individual life.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

MARTIN: Even if you haven't lost someone personally, millions of Americans have, including Reverend Naylor herself.

NAYLOR: The very first funeral that I participated in was one of our Cathedral community colleagues.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

NAYLOR: It was the first of what would become way too many virtual funerals that we did in the Cathedral. And she was a dear friend, and I preached at that service. And it was hard.

INSKEEP: The National Cathedral's act did in sound what another display did visually - 700,000 white flags on the National Mall, which reminded Naylor of another national symbol.

NAYLOR: Just as anyone who visits Arlington Cemetery and sees row after row after row of the headstones recognizes the sacrifice and collective loss.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

INSKEEP: Yesterday, people across Washington, D.C., heard the sound of the bells.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.