In a peaceful corner of Boston, a new granite memorial to those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic—the first in Massachusetts and possibly in the country—now stands as a permanent reminder of the tragedy and heroism that consumed our community this spring.
”We saw an immediate need for a thoughtful space that honors the victims and comforts the survivors,” said JCAM executive director Jamie Cotel. “Our community has experienced a massive trauma, and we needed to provide a place to mourn and reflect. We didn’t want to wait years to erect a memorial.”
JCAM has a unique role during this pandemic, burying people on its 125 cemeteries and caring for their final resting places forever. The memorial is dedicated to those who were not able to say goodbye, those who could not have family and friends console them and those who died alone.
The memorial is located in front of JCAM’s Sons of Abraham Cemetery at the end of the Baker Street Memorial Park. Through a generous donation by Steve Schneider, principal of Slotnick Monuments, the memorial’s inscription captures this moment in time: “…and the people mourned as one community.”
The memorial also includes two granite benches to provide a place for personal reflection. The first bench is dedicated to those who died without loved ones. The second bench is dedicated to the cemetery caretakers—“the last responders”—who unselfishly performed the ultimate act of lovingkindness.
Through the first wave of the pandemic, JCAM’s dedicated professionals and cemetery caretakers were there to bear witness and provide each person with a proper and dignified burial.
The memorial ensures that the victims and their stories will never be forgotten. It honors the elderly woman who died without family and was laid to rest in the last available grave in the same cemetery where her parents were buried decades ago. It honors an only adult child with limited resources who lost both parents within 48 hours, veterans who defended our country and Holocaust survivors who lived through genocide and died during a global pandemic. The list is long.
JCAM was there and will continue to be there for the community and to tell the stories of those lost during the pandemic.
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