Bismarck man creates COVID Memorial Project to honor coronavirus victims
The memorial is in memory of the hundreds of North Dakotan who've lost their lives to COVID-19
BISMARCK, N.D. — At a nursing home in the small town of Bottineau, North Dakota, Cathy Jose was one of 18 people who lost their battle with COVID-19 in the span of two and a half weeks.
“I think that wherever she is, she would say that she’s proud of what we’re doing,” says her son Carl Young.
Born out of grief over losing his mother, the mission Young is now focused on is bringing awareness to the lives lost across the state to the coronavirus.
He says it’s what his mom would’ve wanted. “This is an extension of everything that she taught me about looking beyond yourself and helping others.”
The COVID Memorial Project began at the Bismarck State Capitol, then made its way to Fargo City Hall.
Each flag planted represents a North Dakotan who has passed from COVID-19 or complications from the virus.
Young says the response from the community is what’s inspiring him to keep the project going. He explains, “Random people would come up and talk to me and visit and they’re like, ‘I don’t want to interrupt you or what you’re doing; I just want to tell you about my mom or my dad or my sister. Can I share a few minutes of their life with you?’”
Young says the memorial also serves as a way to get the attention of those who aren’t doing their part in stopping the spread, like wearing a face mask and social distancing. “If I can convince one person through the memorial or my words that it’s a good idea to wear a mask, all of this will be worthwhile.”
He says listening to his mother struggle for air over the phone during her final days serves as a reminder of how real this virus is.
“She meant so much to so many people that, to use this to make a difference in somebody else’s life would make her extremely happy,” he adds.
Young plans to bring the memorial to Washington D.C. next summer.
He says the project would not be possible without donations. You can contribute and learn more by clicking here.
As of Sunday, November 15, the North Dakota Department of Health has reported 736 deaths related to the coronavirus.