The installation, called the Covid Memorial Project, was organized by a group of friends in the Washington DC area who raised money online. They then gathered volunteers to place the flags on the mall on Tuesday.
Each of the 20,000 flags represents 10 American lives that have been lost to the virus this year, according to the group’s GoFundMe page.
“This extreme loss of human life is staggering – but was not inevitable: the president’s mismanagement of the response to the virus has led to tens of thousands of excess deaths,” organizers wrote on the collection site of funds.
“And this administration has done nothing to commemorate this staggering number of lives lost – instead of choosing to minimize, minimize and ignore whenever possible. No flag down, no service held, no declared day of mourning – so the COVID Memorial Project seeks to say simply: these lives are more than a statistic – they were family, friends, neighbors. ”
“It could have been avoided,” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said in a speech at the memorial on Tuesday. “Not everything, but a large part. ”
During the event, the California representative also made a political plea to support Democrats ahead of the November election.
“It’s time for us to crush the virus, not crush the Affordable Care Act,” she said. “It’s time for us to vote for health, not to ignore the needs of the American people. ”
Senator Amy Klobuchar echoed Pelosi in a tweet sharing a photo of the screen.
“My thoughts are with the families of the more than 200,000 people we have lost,” she wrote. “May their memories be a blessing. ”
The flags remained in place until Wednesday evening, according to the memorial’s organizers.
CNN’s Christina Maxouris and Haley Byrd contributed to this report.