Editor’s note: To view the video of the ceremony, click here. For still images, click here. Photo credit: Gov. Andy Beshear’s Communications Office.
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Jan. 22, 2021) – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear was joined by First Lady Britainy Beshear and Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman for a memorial flag ceremony on the Capitol grounds to commemorate the more than 3,300 Kentuckians lost to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Every flag you see represents a real Kentuckian, one who was and is loved by their families and friends, who meant something to the communities in which they lived,” Gov. Beshear said. “Each and every loss is singular and heartbreaking.”
The Governor and Lieutenant Governor spoke briefly before they and the First Lady placed the last of 3,301 flags, one for each Kentuckian whose death has been attributed to COVID-19.
Gov. Beshear said the flag he placed was in honor of front-line health care workers lost to the coronavirus, including Dr. Rebecca Shadowen, a physician and infectious disease specialist in Bowling Green who was just 62 when she died of the coronavirus in early September of last year.
“I will be placing this flag in the ground for Dr. Rebecca Shadowen, and all of our health care heroes who have given their own lives during this pandemic to save others,” Gov. Beshear said. “This noble sacrifice cannot and will not be forgotten.”
The First Lady’s flag honors every parent, child and family member who has lost a loved one to this virus, including the Rev. Robert “Bob” Duggan, a husband, dad, grandad and longtime Presbyterian and United Methodist minister who was 81 when he died of COVID-19.
Lt. Gov. Coleman placed her flag in honor of educators lost to COVID-19.
“We grieve for the more than 3,000 Kentuckians who lost their lives to this virus. In a state as tight-knit as ours, one loss is too many; 3,000 is utterly devastating,” said Lt. Gov. Coleman. “I am dedicating my flag to the education community including Simone Parker, who taught science at Trigg County High School for 19 years and passed away two weeks ago.”
Also taking part in Friday’s ceremony were the Rev. Tonya Kenner of First United Methodist Church in Frankfort, who offered an opening prayer, and soloist Keith Dean, who sang the Gospel hymn “His Eye Is on the Sparrow.”
Gov. Beshear stressed that despite the virus’ dark toll, Kentucky has fared far better than most states due to decisive action and the compassion and sacrifices of people across the commonwealth. He noted that Kentucky currently is administering the safe and effective vaccines faster than the federal government is providing new doses to the state.
The Governor said that until more people are vaccinated, we remain in a dangerous time. The best way to honor those we have lost, he said, was to protect others.
“Let us also show them the respect they deserve by continuing to do what is right to protect those around us,” Gov. Beshear said. “Masking up, maintaining social distance, avoiding crowds and getting the vaccine when your turn comes around: All of these measures are desperately needed and show that you care about your fellow Kentuckians and honor these terrible losses.”