40 lives lost: Community remembers loved ones who succumbed to COVID-19

West Virginia

POINT PLEASANT, WV (WOWK) — The pandemic has taken a tremendous toll on everyone, but not more than those who have suffered the loss of a loved one due to COVID-19.

One community in the Mountain State is remembering those they have lost in a special way.

In the heart of Point Pleasant, 40 American flags were placed in Gunn Park in memory of those who lost their lives to the coronavirus pandemic in Mason County.

“We lost people: male, female, from all walks of life; Different degrees, different occupations; Moms, dads, brothers, sisters, grandmothers, grandfathers; And it’s touched us all,” says Brian Billings, the mayor of Point Pleasant.

Those in attendance at the ceremony know this keenly.

“My wife passed away November 18th,” says Ray Armantrout.

“I came here to place a flag for my grandpa and to support everybody else that lost their family member,” says Mackenzie Kearns.

“The world lost a great person the day we lost Kippy,” says Jessica Hall.

In discreet remembrance, the initials of each person who had passed were read aloud, and families placed the flags in a flowerbed in their honor.

“We live with that, we try not to question it, but we’re always going to remember them,” Billings says.

It is a gesture many who attended say is touching.

“It meant a lot because it still makes me feel like he’s here,” Kearns says.

“I think this is a very good thing that they’re doing. It’s not easy, but it’s good,” Armantrout says.

“It’s actually really nice to see everybody come together and share the heartbreaking experience together and just kind of be supportive,” says Carlie Whan, who lost her grandfather to COVID-19.

Mayor Brian Billings, who lost his mother to COVID-19, says this memorial is not going away anytime soon.

“If I could do a monument of some sort when this is all said and done with the names of each one of those individuals in this park or a location somewhere in our city, I would do it in a minute,” Billings says.

“It proves that this place, right here in Point Pleasant, cares about people,” Armantrout says.

The mayor says he intends to keep the flags through the summer at least, so that the community can come visit them and remember their loved ones.

The mayor has also asked Governor Jim Justice to institute a statewide Day of Remembrance for all who have lost their loved ones to the pandemic.

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