Mourners gathered on Saturday at Rami’s Heart COVID-19 Memorial to the second annual ignition ceremony for those who lost their lives to the virus and the loved ones they left behind.
Rami’s Heart COVID-19 Memorialthe country’s first permanent for those who died of coronavirus was unveiled last year at Allaire Fællesgård in Wall Township. The heart-shaped memorial contains over 3,500 names arranged in 11 yellow-painted shell hearts. It continues to grow as more people lose their lives to the insidious virus.
Before it was moved to the farm, the memorial was exhibited on the sand at Belmar Beach, where was kept vigilant to honor health professionals, survivors and people lost to the disease. This year’s guard marks the first memorial event at the memorial’s permanent location. It also marks two years since the start of the pandemic that changed lives around the world and hit New Jersey particularly hard. The state with 9.2 million inhabitants has reported 33,167 COVID-19 deaths – 30,184 confirmed deaths and 2,983 probable – since the first known case on March 4, 2020.
New Jersey has the fifth most coronavirus deaths per inhabitant in the United States – behind Mississippi, Arizona, Alabama and Oklahoma – according to the latest data reported on March 13.
The evening included the unveiling of “Letters of Hope”, a traveling art installation showcasing some of the artwork that has been incorporated into COVID Hope Quilt – a national memorial and community art project to honor frontline workers who have faced extraordinary challenges during COVID-19 and to commemorate others who have been affected or lost to the pandemic. Loosely based on the AIDS quilt, it has panel blocks in honor of frontline workers and memorial panel blocks for the lost.
That Rami’s Heart COVID-19 Memorial is also surrounded by a garden on the 25 hectare complex, a working farm, horse therapy and animal rescue facility. The memorial and its associated garden are centrally located on the courtyard and measure approximately 60 feet by 12 feet. It includes a series of plantings, two 8 x 8 foot sculptures and a hiking trail built of heart-shaped stepping stones. As the pandemic continues to claim life, additional options have been made available to include a loved one in the permanent memorial. Those interested can pursue it through Rami’s Heart website.
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Jackie Roman can be reached at [email protected].