Vigil held at Heart Memorial in Belmar to remember lives lost to COVID-19
A vigil to mark the one year anniversary of New Jersey's lockdown was held at the COVID-19 Heart Memorial in Belmar on Saturday.
Residents gathered on the beach to bond over common difficulties and losses caused by the pandemic.
Rima Samman fought back tears as she talked about her brother and thanked the crowd for coming out in solidarity. She started the Belmar COVID-19 Memorial of Hearts in memory of her brother who died from COVID-19 on May 10, 2020.
"I never imagined that it would get this big, I literally thought I was going to bed that night and coming back to clean it up, and I woke up to 198 messages the next day," she says.
Samman and fellow residents who lost loved ones to COVID-19 participated in lighting 525 candles. One candle represents every 1,000 lives lost to COVID-19 across the nation.
The memorial was created in January and continues to grow. Samman says the goal is to find it a permanent home.
"It's given me hope, it's given me a way to feel like we're healing together, that we're not alone in this, and I am going to try to do what I can to make it more permanent," she says.
Samman says the tribute is up to about 2,000 stones, and some stones have started coming in from around the world.