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4,050 flags to remember Nebraskans lost to COVID

WOWT Live at 10
Published: Mar. 23, 2022 at 10:26 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - March 24th marks two years since the first Nebraskan died of COVID-19.

Ralph Marasco of Omaha was 59. Since then, 4,050 Nebraskans have died from the virus.

So Rev. Joshua Sawyer of First Christian Church presented the idea to his congregation Sunday for a display to remember the date and those lost.

Three days later, more than 4,000 flags had arrived at the church, just in time.

”Our plan is to plant flags to honor each and every one of those Nebraskans,” Sawyer said. “And we created a sign as people drive back and forth on Dodge to remember the lives that are lost and to reflect on their own lives and what has happened since that time.”

A dozen or so from his congregation arrived about 5:30 on a wet and chilly Wednesday afternoon. Steadfast in their mapped out task, like Sawyer, remembering the uncertainty of two years ago.

“I remember as not just a pastor but as a father of three young kids, two in Omaha public schools, waking up into COVID, having them go back to spring break,” Sawyer said. “And my wife is a pediatrician with boys town and she was going in not exactly sure what it was.”

Sawyer said they’ve found new ways to share love with those affected by COVID, adding, in a way, the flags can mark a new beginning.

“Connect with your neighbors, connect with your community, meet them where they’re at,” Sawyer said. “We’ve all been through a lot these last two years and we want to honor that to help people to remember and reflect, and for us, to move closer as a community together.”

It took about an hour in the drizzling rain to complete the project, 4,050 flags planted in the shape of the state of Nebraska.

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