“I’ve done people on both sides of the aisle, Republicans, Democrats, whomever,” Ernst said. “I’ve done people of all different natures, of all different ethnicities. I’ve done a five-year-old who passed. I did a four-month-old who passed away. I mean, she didn’t even get the chance to live. I’ve done people over a century old.”
Davis, who didn’t know Ernst at the time, had requested her mother, Mary, to be drawn. Ernst believes Davis invited her on board to the Yellow Heart Memorial because it would be “a really good opportunity to enable someone else to have an outlet to grieve.” Davis had selected yellow hearts, a movement that originated in the U.K., after seeing them in social media support groups for families of COVID-19 victims.
Ernst and Davis are among many who are determined to honor and memorialize the mothers, grandfathers, sisters, sons and community members who lost their lives. They decided to do this by writing names, drawing faces and adding messages and prayers to the yellow hearts.
“I did not want my mom to disappear into history with just a number,” said Davis. “I feel like we as survivors are reliving this all over again. It makes me think about my mom, the loss that I suffered, how many more people we are going to lose. Because that is the raw truth. This virus should have never been political from the very beginning. And there’s people that still consider this virus political.”
“I really wish people just would listen to the science behind everything instead of just personal opinions,” Ernst said.
Atonement being sought include prioritizing COVID survivors in the American Rescue Plan and relief resources, supporting children of COVID victims and long haulers through mental health resources and financial support and memorializing those who have lost their lives to the virus.https://www.deviantart.com/ufcfightfree/journal/Watch-UFC-268-Live-Stream-897136475
Those who marched — long haulers, widows and widowers, family members, friends and supporters — wore yellow in remembrance of those who died and in support of those who are still battling or have survived their battles. There were 17 organizations who joined in on the cause, such as COVID-19 Longhauler Advocacy Project, Long COVID Support, Mask Together America and Pandemic of Love.
Other marches took place across the country in cities like Atlanta, Phoenix, Charlotte, Austin and Albuquerque. More than one million steps were taken collectively, surpassing the goal of 615,000 steps, one for every person killed by COVID-19 in the U.S.
Davis and her team are currently working on installing permanent memorials, such as a bench or a wall with labeled hearts — in every state. So far, there are four permanent memorials planned in California, Texas and Missouri.
An event is planned for Long Island on Aug. 22 where 3,000 yellow hearts, the most Davis has seen requested so far, will be displayed on a memorial. Floating lanterns will also be lit and released during the ceremony. A yellow heart memorial can also be viewed at the Yeh Art Gallery in Jamaica, Queens until Aug. 12.
“We want to make sure when we are out of this pandemic that there is something that honors our loved ones and that they’re never forgotten and never erased with time,” said Davis.
“I am only 16, so I have camp, school and SATs coming up,” said Ernst. “But, you know, losing my grandpa, it was just the most horrible thing I’ve had to go through, but all I really can do is just continue on with my project to honor our loved ones.”