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CNN Special: We Remember: A National Memorial Honoring Victims of COVID-19. Aired 12-1p ET
Aired May 31, 2020 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to what we hope will be a very special hour on CNN. "We Remember" a national memorial honoring the victims of COVID-19. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, D.C.
We planned this special to mourn a pandemic but we're also, today, mourning so much more. We're waking up to scenes of coast to coast rioting. America is burning. Mayors from at least 25 cities have ordered people off the streets as looters, fires, and protests continue to grow. We are a nation in pain.
And this hour, we will attempt to process some of that suffering together as the fires continue to burn. At night this week, we are of course, also marking a terrible milestone, the coronavirus has killed more than 100,000 Americans. And you know, that can feel like just another number in a sea of dehumanizing data. So, today we're hoping to try to bring the humanity back.
We want to honor the sons and daughters, the mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, the favorite teachers, the beloved nurses who we all have lost to this horrible virus.
For the next hour, we're going to bring you prayer and words, hopefully, of comfort from religious leaders. We'll have music from the Harlem Gospel Choir and from the Brigham Young a cappella group. But most of all, we will bring you the stories of some of the wonderful people that the United States has lost to this terrible virus. People you may have heard of before, such as William Roosevelt German, the former White House butler who served 11 presidents and died at age 91. And people whose lives were just beginning, really, such as Conrad Buchanan, a 39-year-old DJ from Fort Myers, Florida who loved dancing with his daughter.
Death is always difficult, but grieving -- without the ability to safely hug your extended family or hold a friend's hand, that's a lonely pain. I'm Jewish and in our faith, we have a tradition to surround the mourners with members of the community through a process called sitting Shiva. Judaism requires 10 people present to recite the mourner's prayer. It's a requirement that ensures that the grieving family is seldom alone in that first week after the loss. A requirement that's near impossible for many Jews to follow now.
For Catholics who in more normal times may have found strength from the community that gathers for vigils or for the funeral mass, they, too, have been robbed of that sacred experience. Of celebrating a life well lived together sharing stories about their loved ones.
So, whether you're Muslim, Evangelical, Sikh, Quaker, Mormon, Atheist, whatever. Your personal grieving process might have been the novel coronavirus surely made that more painful. More isolated. Because whatever your faith, community carries us through insurmountable grief. As we're social distancing away from each other, we hope that this national memorial is a way that we can still create something of a community for you.
Over the next hour, we will honor some of the lives cut short and we will try to come together as one American family united in grief, stronger together.
I want to start by bringing in Russell Moore. He's the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. He joins me now. Dr. Moore, thank you so much for joining us. You've been ministering to COVID victims and their survivors. What have they found most challenging about dealing with this disease? And what have you told them?
RUSSELL MOORE, PRESIDENT, SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION: Well, I think one of the most challenging facts is what you just mentioned, the inability to get together and have funerals. I was struck having lost my grandmother during this time in a nursing home not from COVID but COVID meant that we couldn't gather together to mourn her.
I was struck reading Thomas Lynch, the funeral director, writer, who said part of what a funeral does is to tell the story of that person. And that's one of the things that I think the whole nation has lost with 100,000 people dead so far.
Often, it's really easy just to see that as a statistic rather than to see each person. And as a Christian, I believe that Jesus has good shepherd tells us that each sheep is important that he leaves the 99 to go in search of the one.
And so, the humanity and the individuality of each person lost is something I think that the entire nation is missing, and in some ways, the entire nation is overwhelmed by it right now. So, what I am seeking --
TAPPER: And you say -- go ahead. I'm sorry.
MOORE: I'm seeking to say to people the Gospel doesn't hide the dark side of life. As a matter of fact, today is for Christians Pentecost and the holy spirit would pour out one of the things that the scripture tells us does is to prompt us to mourn, to groan sometimes with utterances too deep for words, the Bible says. And I think many people are feeling that sense of grief that it's hard to even describe and to put into words.
But beyond that, I believe there's hope that what we have waiting is a promise that life is stronger than death, that love is stronger than death. And as a Christian, that's what I'm clinging to now. TAPPER: So you say that many in your community have really struggled and continue to struggle with the fact that they can't come together for physical services in church because of the desire to not create an area where the virus can spread even further. How do you help them through that? What do you think religious services will look like when, at some point, we hopefully are able to put the pandemic behind us?
MOORE: Well, I think what you see right now is a sense of we know what we're missing. There are people who are really longing for the sort of connection that comes together with worshipping with one another. With singing hymns with one another.
And so, I think - I think there's some things that we took for granted for a long time that we won't take for granted for long. I've heard many people say I just can't wait to be in church singing and to hug people again. And one woman told me I don't think I'm going to let go of that first hug in a church service for a long time. I think there are many people feeling that now.
TAPPER: A common refrain throughout this crisis has been that we're in this together. But, you know, to be honest, we have seen this outbreak bring out not only the best in us but also some of the worst. What do you think the ultimate impact of this pandemic will be? Will it drive us apart, as so many things do in America today or will we be bound together even closer?
MOORE: Well, I think we have a choice in front of us of life or death. I think it can do either one. I think that we can allow this opportunity to put us at odds with one another and to tear us against - tear us away from one another and against each other, or we can allow this moment to remind ourselves of the fragility of life. To remind ourselves that our life is but a vapor as the scripture says. And therefore, many of the things that we previously may have thought mattered just don't matter and the things we may have taken for granted really do.
And so, I hope that it's the latter. And I see many signs of that. I mean, even with the horror that we see all over the country. We see a fracturing social order. We see so much wreckage. But we also see signs of hope and of people who are caring for one another. Even hospital chaplains who are communicating by Facetime and Skype with people who are dying. Communities are coming together administering to those who are sick. I think that's a sign of hope.
TAPPER: Before we move on, Dr. Moore, we would be grateful if you could lead us in a moment of prayer for all those whom we have lost.
Let us pray.
Lord, I know right now there are many Americans who are walking through the valley of the shadow of death, and many who are hopeless. Many who are lonely. Many who have - who are thinking of the names and faces of those who they've lost. And, Lord, we pray right now that you would allow us to mourn even separately to mourn and also that you would give comfort. We pray, Father, that you would remind us that the light has come into the darkness and the darkness has not -- the darkness cannot - and the darkness will not overcome it. And we're of many different faiths right now, but I come to you as a follower of Jesus Christ and we ask that you would hear our prayer.
Dr. Russell Moore, thank you so much.
Stay with us as we continue to honor those we've lost to the pandemic. I'm going to be speaking with a nationally renowned rabbi as well as other prominent faith leaders about how we process such overwhelming loss. And we're going to have an inspirational performance from the Harlem Gospel Choir. But first, throughout this hour, we're going to be bringing you special tributes from the people who knew and who loved just a few of the more than 100,000 victims in the United States of COVID-19.
People such as a devoted husband of more than 50 years remembered by his wife or a veteran whose memory will be held on to tightly by his daughter.
MINDA MEANS, WIFE OF JAMES W. "CHUCKY" MEANS JR.: My name is Minda Means. James William "Chucky" Means, Jr. and I were married for 53 years. We had a beautiful relationship full of excitement and a lot of living. He passed away on April 7th due to coronavirus. May his soul rest in peace.
People enjoyed talking to him. He loved to talk.
And they enjoyed his intelligence because he could talk about anything.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I like to refer to him as an unintentional educator. No matter where he went, people listened to what it was he had to say. And if you wanted his advice, of his information, or his knowledge, he was happy to give it. I'm a barber and, when I first started going to barber college, he was my first shave. I messed it up so bad. I wanted to quit. He was like, no, we don't do quitting. You get up at 0600 every morning and give me a shave until you get it right.
MEANS: We've been married for 53 years and he was a workaholic. I used to tell him, look, you owe me Fridays. And Fridays are my days. And that had been our date day until he passed. And we would always go to the movies and he would always take me out to eat, which I love to do. He's my best friend.
NANCY TARANTO, DAUGHTER OF CLIFTON DOUGHERTY: Hello. My name is Nancy Taranto. I grew up in Willmar, Minnesota. And I currently live in New Hope, Pennsylvania. And I'm grieving along with hundreds of thousands of American families over the loss of a loved one to COVID-19. A loved one we could not be with at the time of their death and a loved one we could not plan a proper funeral for.
I'm grieving over the loss of my father Clifton Dougherty. A guy who could always make me laugh. He died of COVID-19 on April 14th at the Minnesota Veterans Home in Minneapolis. I love you, Pop. I will never forget you.
My brother and I always said he had way more than nine lives. So, we never thought anything would get him. And even when he was diagnosed with this, my brother Jay said, it's not going to get him. Nothing gets him. He makes it through everything. And I thought maybe but this is different. This is different. And with his preexisting conditions, especially COPD, it was a fight he just couldn't win. An hour after he died, they did the procession of honor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On behalf of regulation of Minnesota Veterans Home, we will present service in honor of Clifton.
TARANTO: It was very touching. It was sad because his friends couldn't gather but it was nice to see, you know, the caregivers wearing masks, 6 feet apart but to give him that sendoff. Especially now. I was very, very touched by it. Just a really great guy and he'll be missed.
NATHAN LANE, FRIEND OF TERRENCE MCNALLY: The very first time I met the great playwright Terrence McNally was by chance in the lobby at City Center. And then two years later, I was cast in his new play, "The Lisbon Traviata" at Manhattan Theatre Club. And it's the play that put me on the map. It changed my life as an actor forever. All due to Terrence's brilliance.
We went on to have a 30-year collaboration. Rather unique in the fickle world of the theater. He gave me some of the best and most important roles of my career. And I will be forever in his debt.
It seems inconceivable that I'm talking about him in the past tense. That he's not here. But, of course, he is here. He'll always be here. In the plays, in the musicals, and operas, in the eloquent and moving speeches he gave, in the love and kindness he generously shared and all the people he inspired. He was a giant in the American theater. A huge hero to the LGBTQ community. A groundbreaker and openly gay activist and writer way before it became fashionable while he was also able to consistently reinvent himself.
It's been very gratifying to see the enormous outpouring of love and respect for Terrence and his incredible body of work over the last couple of months. He would be very pleased and touched.
As Maria Callas says at the end of "Master Class," "the older I get, the less I know." But I'm certain that what we do matters. If I didn't believe that. Believe me, Terrence mattered. A lot.
SCOTT STRINGER, SON OF ARLENE STRINGER-CUEVAS: My name is Scott Stringer. I'm a comptroller of New York City. I'm honoring my mom Arlene Stringer-Cuevas who passed away from the virus on April 3rd.
She was a New York original. She's somebody who raised two boys as a single parent. She got involved in politics, ran for office when few women could see that success. She was tough and she loved the city. And she believed in government and she raised us to believe in government.
So, this tragedy to happen is just so overwhelmingly sad for my family. She was somebody who took me around campaigning when she was running for city council. People would come up to her and say why aren't you home taking care of your husband. She said, well, I don't have a husband. Why aren't you taking care of your kid? I take care of them just fine. And she came from that generation of Bella Abzug in the Women's Movement back in the day. And if you have said to me what would ultimately have my mother fall, I never thought it would be some virus. And it is still hard to get around that. She's got a great story to tell and I'm going to tell it for the rest of my life.
TAPPER: Actor Nathan Lane honoring one of the most important contemporary playwrights of our time, Terrence McNally. And Arlene Stringer-Cuevas, her life of public service remembered by her son, the New York City comptroller, Scott Stringer.
Welcome back to our special hour, remembering just a few of those we've lost to the coronavirus. We are in many ways a nation in mourning and this week we sadly add the worst riots in a generation to the pain that the nation is feeling. The United States is on edge. Many people fearing what additional chaos might come again tonight, perhaps. All while we continue to bury the dead from this pandemic, more than 102,000 now. Loses always difficult during a time of isolation. It might be especially hard.
Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie, the bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church has been administering to her community throughout this pandemic. Bishop McKenzie, thank you so much for joining us this morning. The nations in crisis were mourning more than 100,000 dead from COVID-19 and now of course, all the riots and protests and the unease across the country. All of this has been especially painful for the African American community facing all these challenges. At once the disease is hitting minorities disproportionately. What is your message this morning?
BISHOP VASHTI MURPHY MCKENZIE, AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH: Well, Jake, thank you. Thank you for the tribute and for remembering the lives of that have already been lost to this global pandemic. We are right now in the midst of not one but several pandemics. We have a global health pandemic. We have an economic pandemic. And we have an ongoing racial pandemic. And what we need to do -- we focus on the violence. We focus on peaceful protests turning a right to a left with outside agitators coming in trying to create chaos.
At the same time, we're missing the point. We're missing the moment. We're missing the issue. Instead of focusing on the outgrowth - outgrowth of policy and practice, let's figure out how -- we're bright enough, we're smart enough that we can come together as human beings and we can work on solving and changing the culture that creates these kinds of things.
Right now, Jake, we are fighting an invisible enemy that is trying to steal our lungs and steal the very breath out of our lives. And at the same time, facing a very visible enemy that is trying to take our lives period.
And so, we're all in this together but we're all not in together at the same place. We're swimming in the same pool, but we all don't have life preservers and the boats are not the same. The same size. Let's not miss the issue. Let's work on changing those issues and not just focusing on the outgrowth, the response to the issue.
Yes, we're upset because of the issue but we're also upset about the causes of the issues. You know, Jake, you have people who have been quarantined now for how many weeks? 8 to 10 weeks and some for more. You have angry populations who are angry because of unemployment, angry because of health systems, angry because of one thing or another, and now they all are coming out converging around the frustration of what has happened and continue to happen to the Breanna Taylor's of this world, to the George Floyd's of this world, to the Ahmaud Arbery's of this world. It just seems to be as relentless as this disease has been. Relentless on our population.
They are people who still should be in our lives and then a minute they're gone. They're gone. Here -
TAPPER: I'm sorry. Your church - I would just say your church - your church has been hit so hard by this virus and I was just wondering if in this last moment we have if you could lead us in a moment of prayer to remember not just the congregants that you've lost in your church but also the more than 100,000 people in the United States we've lost to COVID-19. If you could lead us in prayer?
MCKENZIE: Absolutely. Let us pray. Turn to God, our Father, we come to you now from many different places but, Lord, we are still wrestling with the same issue. We ask you to open our hearts to your leading and open our spirits to your leading. We ask you to comfort those who are bewildered and believed. We're asking you to comfort those who are sorrowing and those who are disappointed and those who have lost loved ones in the midst of this pandemic.
Oh, God, as we open our hearts to pray for them and to comfort them, then help our feet and hands to move to do what needs to be done. To surround our loved ones and to keep our people safe. Not just within our congregation but all over the globe wherever this pandemic has touched.
God, we call upon you a healer. Lord, we call upon you to come right now in the midst. We virtually reach the hem of your garment that virtue and healing will flow to the families who find themselves in this moment standing unexpectedly at the graves side of a loved one on this pandemic.
Oh, God, come and help now. And we ask you by the blood of Jesus Christ in the name of your name we pray. Amen and Amen again. Thank you for allowing prayer to go forward. Thank you for being able to allow us and others to comfort sorrowing families who have been gripped of grief now, Jake. This is awesome.
TAPPER: Thank you so much. Amen to that. And thank you so much Bishop McKenzie for honoring us with your presence today and your prayers. Our nation here, the tragedy has unfolded one painful loss at a time. The number now sadly more than 100,000. It's more than a statistic. It's important to keep in mind as we continue our memorials to the people and the families behind those numbers.
Actress Rachel Bloom now pays tribute to one of her dear friends, musician Adam Schlesinger who many will remember as a front man for the band "Fountains of Wayne" and for the summer anthem he gave millennials and GenX with a song, "Stacy's Mom." We're also going to hear from a young widow. Katie Cuelo now raising two small children on her own honoring the husband and the father of her children that her family has lost.
RACHEL BLOOM, FRIEND OF ADAM SCHLESINGER: So, I don't want this to be his eulogy because hopefully eventually there will be an actual funeral for him where we can all gather and hug each other and tell stories about Adam.
And I think that's been the hardest part for not only me and Adam's friends and family, but everyone who has been affected by this and had -- and lost a loved one. Not even just to COVID-19 but during these times is that you can never grieve together.
And our other song writing partner, Jack Dolgen, said that right now it feels like there's a funeral for Adam, that kind of never fully starts but never fully ends. But, anyway, I'll just share a quick Adam story. So, it's the day of the 2017 Emmy's. We were nominated for song "Settle for Me" in the first season.
We were in the middle of writing the second season of "Crazy Ex- Girlfriend." And we were trying to crack a duet between my character Rebecca and the character Paula. And we knew that it was some sort of '80s duet. They were having a fight. We couldn't crack it. And Adam comes to my house, because we're all leaving for the Emmys from my house and we're all in these matching tuxes and we're ready to go and he's like, hold on a second. Tell them to hold on. I got to play you guys something. And he sits at this piano and he just busts out this amazing song called "You Go First." And it was exactly what we needed.
That was Adam. He didn't really care about the pomp and the circumstance of fancy events. I mean, he liked the Emmys and he likes getting an Emmys but what he cared about was the work. I miss you, Adam.
KATIE COELHO, WIFE OF JONATHAN COELHO: My name is Katie Coelho. My family and I live in Bethel, Connecticut.
My husband Jonathan is 32 years old. And he was an essential worker under the judicial branch in the state of Connecticut.
On April 22nd, 2020, after fighting so hard for 28 days, COVID-19 stole my husband away from myself and our two children, Braedyn who is 2 1/2 and Penelope who is about to 1. And we will miss him every single day for the rest of our lives.
They don't know that they lost the greatest human being and they'll only ever know their dad through pictures and memories and videos. This - and to me, I feel like that's the worst part of this is that they won't feel the love that I felt for the past 10 years with my husband. They'll know about it, but they can't say, like, I remember feeling that. And it breaks my heart and I know he was so scared to miss out on them growing up and he didn't go feeling like he had done everything he needed to do. I know he left feeling scared and not wanting go.
TAPPER: So sad. Joining us now is Rabbi David Wolpe, he's the senior rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. Rabbi Volpe thanks for being with us today. As we talked about the top of the show, the Jewish ritual is Shiva is rooted in the importance of community coming together to help a family through the period of mourning. What kind of toll is it taking on us, on society that these traditions are not able to take place in this time of COVID pandemic?
RABBI DAVID WOLPE, SENIOR RABBI, SINAI TEMPLE: Thank you, Jake. Thank you for asking me to be on. It's extraordinarily painful not to be able to spend your last moments with a loved one as they're dying, which has often happened and not being able to gather with others, family and friends, because we find, generally, that it is in community that we're able to heal and we help heal one another.
And so, right now we have a double problem, which is that, first of all, we can't gather. We can't hold hands. We can't put our arms around each other. We can't use touch and proximity and closeness to heal and, second, of course, that we have such deep divisions and anger in our society. That it exacerbates, it makes even worse your own personal sense of grief when you see the grief and anger around you.
TAPPER: And you've written about finding meaning in loss. How could people do that when we're not able to pray together or to mourn together or to even go to a funeral together?
WOLPE: So, the first thing that I often tell people when someone has died is the measure of your loss was the measure of your blessing because the reason you grieve is because you had this blessing in your life. And that remains. That is in you. And so, you have to, first, turn both inside you and, also, there is a measure of faith that the person never is completely gone. That they live on in some way we can't understand. And so, I think for this time, for all of us, for me the iconic story that I keep coming back to over and over in my mind is the story I heard many years ago which is about a man who looks up at the heavens and he says, God, there's so much anger and grief and loss in your world. Why don't you send help and God says I did send help. I sent you. And the greatest antidote that we have to loss is to help others, as well. To make of our own grief a blessing for another human being who is grieving.
Exactly what all the people who are coming on your show today, what Bishop McKenzie did, the woman who just spoke about her husband did so beautifully is they're enabling their own pain and grief and loss to be something that helps us understand and feel and go deeper. And that's the most powerful way that we know of coping with the grief that tears in our hearts.
TAPPER: And, Rabbi Wolpe, before we let you go, we would appreciate it if you could lead us in a prayer for those whom we've lost in this pandemic.
WOLPE: (INAUDIBLE) Master of the universe, we pray for your help in being your hands in this world. To give to others some measure of healing and some message of hope.
Enable us, help us to have the courage to move on and create a world of healing. A world of justice. And a place of peace. So, may it be your will and so may it be ours. Amen.
TAPPER: Amen. Rabbi David Wolpe, thank you so much for your time and for your prayers. We're going to continue our special national memorial with one of the nation's leading Muslim voices after the break.
But first, we want to bring you and extraordinary tribute in this moment of crisis and chaos. Often, we turn to music for inspiration and for comfort. I hope this performance of "Amazing Grace" by the Harlem Gospel Choir brings you some comfort. Theire beautiful voices are accompanied by images of memorials from across the country.
(THE HARLEM GOSPEL CHOIR PERFORMANCE)
ZAKIA KATOR, DAUGHTER OF MOHAMMAD KATOR: My name is Zakia Kator and I'm from Simi Valley, California. My loving siblings and I lost our father Mohammad Homayun Shah Kator to the coronavirus on March 27th. It has been a devastating loss for our family.
To me and my family, my dad was like our prophet. He was everything to us. Because of the great man that he was. My dad had 12 children, seven daughters and five sons. He said my daughters are my warriors and my sons are my warriors. And he loved every single one of us. These 30 or 40 days has been a nightmare for my family. Out of the 10 siblings that live in California, eight of us got very, very sick with the coronavirus.
But in retrospect, I know that I would not do anything differently and neither with my siblings because my dad deserved his children being with him. We did the best we could for him risking our own lives until he was intubated, and I would do it all over again. He was a great man. I know a lot of people say that about their dads but the likes of him will never come around again.
DOMINIC PORCO, SON OF FRANCESCA PORCO: My name is Dom. On April 11th, I lost my mother, Francesca Porco to COVID-19. There's not a minute that passes where I don't think about her. I miss her so much.
My mom was just - she loved like, you know, cooking and hosting her -- one of her, you know, favorite things is, you know, if I brought a friend over, she would make sure that everyone was fed and, you know, having a good time. And she looked out for others. And you know, my mom was full of culture and life. She loved the old traditions. She passed on to me.
And she was also like really awesome on the dance floor. You know, if my mom was there and there was a party and she just couldn't, tear apart a tanga or waltz. It was incredible to watch her. She started feeling tired and developed a fever and cough. And within a matter of days she was -- God, she was really bad. She spent 30 hours in the ER. One of the, you know, one of the great gifts I gave myself and my mom is I taught her how to use video chat. I told her I loved her, and you know, she said I have to sleep on my stomach now. And I had a minute and a half to say goodbye to my mom.
TAPPER: Welcome back to our CNN national memorial honoring the victims like Mohamed Kator or Francesca Porco who have lost their lives in this devastating pandemic. We're so sorry for their loss and for the loss of thousands and thousands more like them.
I want to bring in Imam Khalid Latif right now. He's the executive director and chaplain for the Islamic Center at New York University. He also previously served as a chaplain for the New York City police department.
Imam Khalid, thank you so much for being here. You run the Islamic Center at NYU. You have a strong presence in the wider community in the heart of New York. A city once the epicenter of the pandemic. Tell us what kind of impact the pandemic has had on the people of your faith in New York City.
IMAM KHALID LATIF, FORMER CHAPLAIN, NEW YORK CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT: I mean, you're exactly correct. You know, New York City, at a time, was the epicenter of the coronavirus. Even today we still have individuals who are losing loved ones, who are falling ill. When we saw it reach its pinnacle, the situation was beyond difficult. You had hospitals overwhelmed, funeral homes not knowing what to do well beyond capacity of any kind. But you also saw so many people who were stepping up and to fill certain roles and responsibilities where governmental apparatus was not doing its part to be a real source of hope and a real source of light for so many.
TAPPER: And this, obviously, is an extra difficult time when you take the pandemic with the death and the health impact and the economic hardships it's created. And then, you combine it in the last week with all the fallout from the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer leading to the violent clashes in the street. Especially difficult time for the minority community in the United States.
LATIF: Definitely. You know New York City we see that coronavirus itself is not a virus that is beyond its own insight of discrimination where at twice the rate, black and brown people were amongst the deceased in comparison to their white counter parts. The unfortunate reality, as you mentioned in the last week, we continue to see that this virus of COVID-19 has just given us a deeper insight into the broader ailments that is racism that is so deeply entrenched within the very fabric of our country. I think in New York City, we saw revelations of all kind from this illness. First responders who I have no idea what they're made of, that they could just stand day in and day out epitomizing self-lessness to the utmost. Meeting the virus head on. Their sole purpose just to bring benefit and healing to their patients. Essential workers making critical decisions but, also, revelations that were at the other end of the spectrum from those beautiful examples of first responders. People who were showing greed and selfishness and I think the deepest revelation that this illness has shown to us is how race and class still dictate and define who has and who has not.
TAPPER: Yes, especially when it comes to access of quality health care. As we start to bring this show, this memorial show to a close, we would appreciate it if you could lead us in a moment of prayer for those whom we've lost during this pandemic, Imam.
LATIF: Sure. I've written one.
Almighty God, giver of life, and guider of hearts. Bless this gathering and all those who are in it. We come today to remember all those who we have lost, who have fallen ill, and whose lives have been impacted by COVID-19, the coronavirus. Make us from amongst those who carry and honor them always and take lessons from this time that we find ourselves in. The difficulties and hardships of the days that surround us create deep opportunity for revelations of all kinds. It has shown us the potential for greed and selfishness that exists among those whose only interest is their self-interest. It has shown us the beauty and courage of those who stand day in and day out at the frontlines against it. It has shown us inequity in its ugliest forms and how race and class still today dictate who has and who has not. And it has shown us who we are based off our responses to it.
When we look back to these days of COVID-19, make us those who look back with full assurance knowing that we did everything we could for others and did not leave anything behind. These days where people are still passing away and many more are falling ill, where so many have lost jobs and have no means for rent, food, clothing or really anything at all.
Where American government has failed, and systems have favored only the privileged. Where dying individuals have asked their doctors how much they will have to pay for getting intubated because they worry for no health care in America is greater than the pain of caused by corona. Where the incarcerated sit and infect American prisons despite their infractions being tied to actions that are no longer considered a crime. Where the undocumented people who contribute to our society and many essential roles are still not considered human enough to receive a U.S. government's stimulus check. Where global pandemic became necessary for this march to be the first march since 2002 that no school shooting took place in this country since all schools were closed due to COVID-19. Where dollars dictate decisions, ethics and morals are put to the side, and most swayed whichever direction the wings of the privileged below them in.
Where American law enforcement attacks and arrests media and journalists who are first responders and essential workers went months with no personal protective equipment while we send billions of dollars in weapons overseas. Where Minneapolis, New York City, Chicago, Newark, and so many cities across our country have shown us that the ailment of racism is as deeply entrenched as ever within ever structure and system of our nation. Where even a global pandemic does not give black people respite from police brutality. Where those that these days took from us include the names of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breanna Taylor. Where we have seen our entire health care system, prison system, educational system, justice system, welfare system, and every system is proof themselves of how black life does not matter and minorities of all backgrounds are considered less than their privileged counter parts.
Where 105,000 people have died in the United States of America due to COVID-19. And our president has still not honored them in any way where there is so much to be done in these days and there's no shortage of opportunity to be a means of strength, hope, love, and light for so many make us those when we look back we have full assurance that we did everything that we could for others who needed us to be better than our best and that we did not leave anything behind at all.
Help us to obtain strength for the sake of the weary, hope for those who are discouraged, and joy for each and every one who is down hearted. Protect us always from hearts that are not humble, tongues that are not wise, and eyes that have forgotten how to cry. Forgive for our shortcomings and God, bless us all. Amen.
TAPPER: Amen. Imam Khalid Latif thank you so much for your work and for your prayers. And thank you all for joining me this special hour. It can be hard to grasp collectively what is unfolding so painfully for individuals and families for communities for a country and for the world. We are all connected. It impacts us all and only together, all of us can we all heal. We're now going to leave you with a moving reminder of that. A performance by Brigham Young University BYU Vocal Point. Thanks for joining us. [12:55:00]
(BYU VOCAL POINT PERFORMANCE)