Pastor Manny Gomez provided the opening prayer and Springfield Poet Laureate Magdalena Gomez gave a special poetry reading. Vocalist Vanessa Ford sang a remembrance song and Bishop Bruce Shaw provided the closing prayer. East Side Jazz with Robert Ferrier and David Picchi provided the live music.
To honor lives lost during the pandemic participants the Department of Health and Human Services displayed over 400 paper bag on the front steps of City Hall signifying the lives lost during the pandemic. Markers were provided for those in attendance to write the names of loved ones lost. A flameless candle was placed in each bag to offer a symbol of hope and remembrance.
The Candlelight Remembrance Ceremony brought together residents of the City of Springfield to encourage community members to acknowledge the loss of life and the deep sense of pain that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the world over the past two years. The event allowed space for participants to grieve and remember loved ones that have passed during the pandemic. The event also celebrated survivors of the COVID-19 pandemic and allowed participants to celebrate the spirit, life, and resiliency demonstrated by our community in the face of this global pandemic.
Mayor Sarno states, “It is important that we all take a moment to pause and reflect on the past two years and the toll this COVID-19 pandemic has taken on all of us, especially to those who have experienced the loss of a loved one, a friend, co-worker or someone special. This pandemic has affected us all and we want to hold this special candlelight remembrance ceremony to honor the loved ones we have lost and support each other with love, kindness and compassion.”
HHS Commissioner Caulton-Harris stated, “Public Health Month gives us the opportunity to pause and reflect on the human toll the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on the City of Springfield, Commonwealth, Nation and World. During our vigil, we pause to remember, reflect, as a city we grieve with their loved ones and vow not to forget their lives and we honor their legacy.”
“I want to thank Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris and her dedicated staff for their unyielding efforts throughout this pandemic,” said Mayor Sarno. “Since day one, Commissioner Caulton-Harris has been on the frontlines working with all of our state, federal and community partners to help mitigate the spread and defeat this COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to her steadfast advocacy for the public health of our community, the City of Springfield has been a leader in the Commonwealth in taking the necessary measures needed to keep our residents, business community and city workforce safe and healthy over these past two years. I strongly believe that because of her proactive initiatives, based on the science and medical information, we were able to get out in front of this pandemic and lessen its impact upon our Springfield.”
From the onset of the pandemic, March 2020 through December 31, 2021, 40,744 Springfield residents tested positive for COVID-19. For the same period, 403 Springfield residents died of COVID related illnesses (MDPH Chapter 93 Report, Mass.Gov).
The Candlelight Remembrance Ceremony featured remarks by Mayor Sarno, Commissioner Caulton-Harris, State Representative Williams, Councilor Lederman and School Committee Vice Chair Collins.
BHM was also on site providing a COVID-19 vaccination clinic.
The Candlelight Remembrance Ceremony was a program of Springfield Public Health Month hosted by Springfield Department of Health and Human Services (SDHHS). Each April, SDHHS, community partners and residents celebrate Public Health Month to raise awareness about the role and importance of public health locally as well as around the world.