Detroit nurse Lori Marie Key sang an emotional rendition of “Amazing Grace” at a memorial event honoring the victims of the coronavirus, on the eve of the Biden-Harris inauguration.
On Tuesday evening, as President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris looked on from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., Key sang the same song for which she went viral earlier this year, when she sang it to her colleagues at a Michigan hospital amid the pandemic.
“Working as a COVID nurse was heartbreaking,” Key said at the sunset memorial service. “But when I’m at work, I sing. It gives me strength during difficult times, and I believe it helps heal.”
Earlier on Tuesday, the U.S. reached the grim milestone of 400,000 dead from the virus.
At the memorial event planned by the Biden-Harris transition, Harris called the U.S. “a nation in mourning.”
“For many months, we have grieved by ourselves,” Harris said, of how the pandemic has kept families apart even as they mourn. “Tonight we grieve and begin healing together.”
After Key’s song, Biden thanked the nurse, saying that “if there are any angels in heaven, they’re all nurses.”
“We know from our family experience what you do: the courage, the pain you absorb for others,” Biden said. “So thank you.”
Gospel singer Yolanda Adams closed out the ceremony with a powerful rendition of “Hallelujah” as Biden, Harris and their spouses looked out over the 400 lights along the reflecting pool — each representing 1,000 people across the nation who’ve died from the virus so far.
Other cities across the country conducted their own memorial tributes at the same time, from New Orleans to San Francisco to New York City. The funeral bells at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., reportedly rang out 400 times, in tribute to the 400,000 dead from COVID-19 in the U.S.