‘Tombstones' Mark Reminder of COVID Deaths at Liberty City Ceremony

Families of those who died and local leaders joined in Liberty City to honor the lives lost

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Amid song and preaching, families gathered for a sober reminder of loved ones lost to COVID-19.

“We’ve lost a lot of people,” said Stephanie McKay, who lost her mother. “It didn’t have to be like this.”

McKay spoke in a green space covered with hundreds of makeshift tombstones, a tribute to more than 3,400 people who have died of related conditions in Miami-Dade County alone.

Stephanie didn’t even think it was possible for her 84-year-old mother to get sick. Her mother Nellie was healthy, and Stephanie hardly let her out of the house where they lived together.

“I cry every day,” she said. “Me and my mom were best friends.”

On August 21st, Nellie McKay passed away in the hospital - without her family by her side.

“Just the fact of not being able to see her,” Stephanie said. “And then her go through that alone, that’ the hardest part.”

Stephanie and others took the opportunity to write the names of late loved ones on symbolic tombstones at Simonoff Park in Liberty City.

“We are grieving today, we are mourning today,” said U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson.

The Democrat from South Florida and other event organizers expressed their hope that the park’s memorial would be an enduring reminder to South Florida.

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