LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Los Angeles today continues a three-day memorial to honor victims of the COVID-19 pandemic.
   The “Strength and Love, The City of Angels’ COVID-19 Memorial” was organized by Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office. It began Thursday, as another 26 COVID-19 deaths were reported in the county, raising the overall death toll to 26,949.
   “It’s not enough for us to simply share those numbers. We need to grieve together, we need to come together and we need to embrace one another. That’s what Strength and Love, the city of L.A.’s COVID-19 memorial is all about,” Garcetti said.
   The memorial’s theme Thursday was Honor, and the city encouraged residents to clap at 8 p.m. for the city’s first responders, essential workers, small-business owners, community organizers, caregivers, neighbors, and families for their work holding Los Angeles together during the pandemic.
   Today, the memorial’s theme will be Remember, and the city asks that residents light a candle in their window at 8 p.m. to pay homage to the memory of those lost to the pandemic.
   The memorial ends on Saturday with a theme to mobilize. People are asked at 8 p.m. to wave a flashlight or phone light outside to light up L.A. to represent the city working to be more kind, united, and resilient than before.
   “This has been such a difficult chapter for us, such a traumatic chapter for us,” Garcetti said. “We have gone through more pain and suffering than we knew we had. But we also found more resilience and strength than we thought we could ever summon.”
   Those who participate in the memorial can post a photo or video on social media with the hashtag #StrengthandLoveLA. People can also download memorial posters at bit.ly/3DtyQcv to print or post on social media.
   “It’s a way for us to say to those who are still grieving: ‘We see you. We see you,” Garcetti said. “And for those, we’ve lost, that we remember each and everyone.”
   City Hall, SoFi Stadium, and the Grand Park Fountain, along with other iconic Los Angeles buildings, will be lit up blue to honor the pandemic’s victims during the memorial.
   People can visit Griffith Park to see a white flag installation on the Griffith Observatory’s front lawn, commemorating the people who died due to the pandemic.
   Those who want to share their own pandemic experience can contribute to the Los Angeles COVID-19 community archive at lapl.org/covid-archive. The archive is accepting digital submissions of photographs, letters, emails, journal and diary entries, blog and social media posts, notices and signs, as well as creative art like drawings, paintings, and poetry.
   The mayor’s office hopes it will be an opportunity for Los Angeles to reflect on how its community has been impacted by the pandemic, as well as recognize Los Angeles’ resiliency and find ways to connect and mobilize together for a better future.
   “We will forever remember those we’ve lost to COVID-19 and never forget how the pain summoned the best of the Angeleno spirit: to help, care for, and stand with one another through fear and heartbreak never felt before,” Garcetti said in a statement Thursday morning.
   “Strength and love will always be more than words to the people of this city — they represent a lifelong commitment to push on with the courage, generosity, and unity that this experience has shown is so important in our lives. Participating in this memorial will help us hold those values in our hearts, keep them on our minds, and put them on display for the world to see.”