The New York Times edition of Sunday, May 24 was an eye-catching tribute to nearly 100,000 American fatalities of the coronavirus pandemic. The entire front page of that unprecedented issue of the Times consisted of victims’ names in small type, top to bottom.
Page 1’s listing of six columns continued for 10 columns more on pages 12, 13, and 14. Times editor Dan Barry summed it all up:
“So imagine a city of 100,000 residents that were here (in New York) for New Year’s Day but has now been wiped from the American map.
“One hundred thousand is a threshold number. It is the number celebrated when the family car’s odometer clicks once more to six digits. It is the number of residents that can make a place feel fully like a city: San Angelo, Texas; Kenosha, Wisconsin; Vacaville, California… One hundred thousand including:
“Den mother for Cub Scout Pack 9. Manager of the produce department. Tavern owner. Nurse to the end.
“Loved baseball. Loved playing euchre. Loved seeing the full moon rise above the ocean.
“Man, could she cook. Always first on the dance floor. Always ready to party. Always gave back…
“Awarded the Bronze Star. Served in the Women’s Army Corps. Survived the sinking of the Andrea Doria. Competed in the Special Olympics. Immigrated to achieve the American Dream.
“Could quote Tennyson from memory.”
“A number is an imperfect measure when applied to the human condition.”
“One. Hundred. Thousand.”
It took a score of New York Times reporters and researchers to assemble this list, drawing from 275 newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, Facebook pages, and other online sources across the nation and the world.
Tom Bodkin, a 40-year veteran, and chief creative officer of the Times, said he could not remember any front pages of that paper without photos or images. “This,” he concluded, “is certainly a first in modern times.” An unforgettable tribute to U.S. victims so far of a tragedy that had, as of Memorial Day, resulted in 345,000 deaths and 5,440,000 reported cases worldwide.
As E.J. Dionne Jr. wrote in Page A17, Washington Post on this Memorial Day, May 25:
“Martin Luther King Jr. preached the possibility that ‘unearned suffering is redemptive.’ We would like to believe that this widespread grief might lead to a new birth of empathy, justice, and solidarity — a shared determination, as Faust said, ‘to take care of each other better and watch out for each other’.
“As a start,” columnist Dionne concluded, “we can celebrate those who, right now, are taking care of the dying and the grieving. Like my old history teacher, they know that we cannot confront these losses alone.”
As a 36-year veteran of the Voice of America (VOA), Alan Heil traveled to more than 40 countries a foreign correspondent in the Middle East, and later as director of News and Current Affairs, deputy director of programs, and deputy director of the nation’s largest publicly-funded overseas multimedia network. Today, VOA reaches more than 275 million people around the world each week via radio, television and online media. Read More