Biden marks 'grim milestone' of 500K U.S. deaths

"Today we mark a truly grim, heartbreaking milestone - 500,071 dead. That's more Americans who have died in one year in this pandemic than in World War One, World War Two and the Vietnam War combined," he said.

Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, first lady Jill Biden and second gentleman Doug Emhoff marked a moment of silence at 6:15 p.m. (2315 GMT) at the White House after the president's remarks.

"As a nation, we can't accept such a cruel fate. While we've been fighting this pandemic for so long, we have to resist becoming numb to sorrow," Biden said in an emotional address at the White House.

The president called on Americans to remain vigilant in fighting the pandemic by continuing to wear marks, observe social distancing and receive vaccinations when it was their turn.

"We must end the politics of misinformation that have divided families, communities and the country. It's cost too many lives already," he said. "We have to fight this together as one people, as the United States of America."

Video Transcript

JOE BIDEN: Today we mark a truly grim, heartbreaking milestone, 500,071 dead. That's more Americans who have died in one year in this pandemic than in World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War combined. That's more lives lost to this virus than any other nation on Earth. But as we acknowledge the scale of this mass death in America, remember each person and the life they lived.

They spanned generations, born in America, emigrated to America, but just like that, so many of them took their final breath alone in America. As a nation, we can't accept such a cruel fate. While we've been fighting this pandemic for so long, we have to resist becoming numb to the sorrow.

I know all too well. I know what it's like to not be there when it happens. I know what it's like when you are there holding their hand. There's a look in their eye, and they slip away. That black hole in your chest, you feel like you're being sucked into it. The survivor's remorse, the anger, the questions of faith in your soul.

We can find purpose, purpose worthy of the lives they lived and worthy of the country we love. So today, I ask all Americans to remember. Remember those we lost and those who left behind. But as we remember, as we all remember, I also ask us to act, to remain vigilant, to stay socially distanced, to mask up. Get vaccinated when it's your turn

We must end the politics of misinformation that's divided families, communities in the country. That's cost too many lives already. This nation will smile again. This nation will know sunny days again. This nation will know joy again. And as we do, we'll remember each person we've lost, the lives they lived, the loved ones they left behind. We will get through this. I promise you, but my heart aches for those of you who are going through it right now. May God bless you all, particularly those who've lost someone. God bless you.