COVID-19 has touched the lives of Americans from coast to coast since the first casualty was recorded last March. To honor those who have lost their life or a loved one from COVID, community members have planned a COVID Memorial Day event at Bergamot Station Monday afternoon.

The local event occurring at the Building Bridges Art Exchange from noon to 3 p.m. is part of a larger grassroots effort that began with the organization #MarkedByCovid, which was co-founded by Arizona resident Kristin Urquiza after her father died from COVID.

“She created this organization with all of these volunteers who work on different causes relating to government and community action,” Santa Monica resident Carolyn Freyer-Jones said. “And now, she’s leading up a charge to create a national COVID Memorial Day.”

After losing her father from COVID last July and starting a similar effort of her own named #thefridayminute shortly after, Freyer-Jones said there was no doubt in her mind she wanted to get involved in Monday’s efforts when she learned about them.

“Every Friday, we have people from all over the world gather virtually with me online and we do a minute of silence for anyone who’s dealing with COVID in any way. And, since I’m on social media so much… I found this floral artist in New York, whose name is Christina Libby; and she started laying out these floral wreaths in locations all over New York for anybody who is grieving from COVID to come and just put pictures of their loved ones,” she said.

“And then locally, we have artist Marcos Lutyens and the Rose River Memorial art project where people handmake felt roses for every single person who’s passed from COVID and he intends to have every person represented,” Freyer-Jones added as she detailed how Girl Scouts, Kiwanis, and even her own daughter are making roses to send to Lutyens.

“There are rose memorial projects in a few California cities but there’s one really close to us at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica, so the effort on Monday will be there and everybody in the 100 different cities will use their events, wherever they’ll be, as a time to come together,” Freyer-Jones said, stating, “I think it’s important to be a part of this grassroots effort because we should be creating memorials around the country to send the message of ‘these deaths matter.’”

As she discussed how many around the country have been denied the ability to hold a service for their loved ones and the different ways the pandemic has impacted her family, Freyer-Jones said she knows she is not alone so she invited everybody to come feel the love Monday.

“This is the work of a number of grassroots efforts all over the United States so you know you’ll leave feeling part of something bigger,” Freyer-Jones said. “We’ll have a floral wreath and it will be really stunning and moving; I’m excited.”

Brennon@smdp.com