President Biden marked today's COVID milestone with a loving and sobering message to all Americans

Just over a month after passing the grim milestone of 400,000 deaths from COVID-19, the United States has surpassed another one. As of today, more than half a million Americans have been lost to the virus that's held the world in a pandemic holding pattern for almost a year. It's a number that seemed unfathomable even six months ago, and yet here we are.

Despite increasing vaccine rollouts allowing us to see the light at the end of the tunnel, the loss we've experienced is immense. Having a president who not only understands loss on a personal level—having endured the tragic loss of his wife and baby daughter earlier in life and the death of his son just six years ago—but who conveys with compassion the grief of the nation as we mark this milestone is a comforting change.

Tonight, the White House honored the 500,000+ lives lost with a display of 500 candles lining the steps of the building, with each candle representing 1000 Americans. The president and first lady, along with the vice president and second gentleman, held a memorial moment of silence outside the South Portico as a military band played "Amazing Grace."


Prior to the candle ceremony, President Biden spoke to the nation about the importance of marking this milestone, offered words of empathy and caring to those who've lost loved ones, and shared a message of unity and hope.

Biden started by sharing that he receives a card each day that he keeps with this schedule in his pocket that shows how many Americans have been infected with or died from COVID-19.

"Today we mark a truly grim, heartbreaking milestone: 500,071 dead," he said. "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 we remember each person and the life they lived. They're people we knew. They're people we feel like we knew. Read the obituaries and the remembrances. The son who called his mom every night just to check in, the father's daughter who lit up his world, the friend who was always there, the nurse who made her patients want to live."

"While we've been fighting this pandemic for so long, we have to resist becoming numb to the sorrow," he said. "We have to resist viewing each life as a statistic or a blur or one the news. We must do so to honor the dead, but equally important, care for the living that are left behind. For the loved ones left behind, 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 hands as they look in your 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..."

Biden spoke directly to those who are grieving lost loved ones, sharing what he's learned through his own experiences of loss.

"To heal, we must remember," he said. "It's important to do that as a nation. For those who've lost loved ones, this is what I know: They're never truly gone. They'll always be part of your heart. I know this as well—and it seems unbelievable—but I promise you the day will come when the memory of the loved one you lost will bring a smile to your lips before a tear to your eye. It will come, I promise you. My prayer for you is that they will come sooner rather than later. And that's when you know you're gonna be okay. You're gonna be okay."

Biden spoke about finding a purpose worthy of the lives our loved ones lived and asked all Americans to remain diligent about social distancing, masking, and getting vaccinated when it's your turn.

"We must end the politics and misinformation that's divided families, communities, and the country, and that's cost too many lives already," he said. "It's not Democrats and Republicans that are dying from the virus. It's our fellow Americans, it's our neighbors, our friends, our mothers, our fathers, our sons, our daughters, husbands and wives. We have to fight this together, as one people."

"Let this not be a story of how far we fell, but how far we climbed back up," he said. "We can do this. For in this year of profound loss, we've seen profound courage from all of you on the front lines. I know the stress, the trauma, and the grief you carry. But you keep us going. You remind us that we do take care of our own, that we leave nobody behind, and that while we've been humbled, we've never given up. We are America. We can and will do this."

Biden's whole speech is worth a watch. You can find it in its entirety along with the memorial candle ceremony here:

Biden Holds Memorial For 500,000 U.S. Covid Deaths | NBC News youtu.be

Thank you, President Biden, for marking this milestone with such compassion and for offering heartfelt words of wisdom and experience to those who are suffering the loss of loved ones to this virus. That empathy is what we've been desperately yearning for, as our shared humanity is the only thing that will get us through the crises we face without doing further damage to our nation.

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Often, parents of children with special needs struggle to find Halloween costumes that will accommodate medical equipment or provide a proper fit. And figuring out how to make one? Yikes.

There's good news; shopDisney has added new ensembles to their already impressive line of adaptive play costumes. And from 8/30 - 9/26, there's a 20% off sale for all costume and costume accessory orders of $75+ with code Spooky.

When looking for the right costume, kids with unique needs have a lot of extra factors to consider: wheelchair wheels get tangled up in too-long material, feeding tubes could get twisted the wrong way, and children with sensory processing disorders struggle with the wrong kind of fabric, seams, or tags. There are a lot of different obstacles that can come between a kid and the ability to wear the costume of their choice, which is why it's so awesome that more and more companies are recognizing the need for inclusive creations that make it easy for everyone to enjoy the magic of make-believe.

Created with inclusivity in mind, the adaptive line is designed to discreetly accommodate tubes or wires from the front or the back, with lots of stretch, extra length and roomier cut, and self-stick fabric closures to make getting dressed hassle-free. The online shop provides details on sizing and breaks down the magical elements of each outfit and accessory, taking the guesswork out of selecting the perfect costume for the whole family.

Your child will be able to defeat Emperor Zurg in comfort with the Buzz Lightyear costume featuring a discreet flap opening at the front for easy tube access, with self-stick fabric closure. There is also an opening at the rear for wheelchair-friendly wear, and longer-length inseams to accommodate seated guests. To infinity and beyond!

An added bonus: many of the costumes offer a coordinating wheelchair cover set to add a major boost of fun. Kids can give their ride a total makeover—all covers are made to fit standard size chairs with 24" wheels—to transform it into anything from The Mandalorian's Razor Crest ship to Cinderella's Coach. Some options even come equipped with sounds and lights!

From babies to adults and adaptive to the group, shopDisney's expansive variety of Halloween costumes and accessories are inclusive of all.

Don't forget about your furry companions! Everyone loves to see a costumed pet trotting around, regardless of the occasion. You can literally dress your four-legged friend to look like Sven from Frozen, which might not sound like something you need in your life but...you totally do. CUTENESS OVERLOAD.

This year has been tough for everyone, so when a child gets that look of unfettered joy that comes from finally getting to wear the costume of their dreams, it's extra rewarding. Don't wait until the last minute to start looking for the right ensemble!


*Upworthy may earn a portion of sales revenue from purchases made through affiliate links on our site.

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Over the past six years, it feels like race relations have been on the decline in the U.S. We've lived through Donald Trump's appeals to America's racist underbelly. The nation has endured countless murders of unarmed Black people by police. We've also been bombarded with viral videos of people calling the police on people of color for simply going about their daily lives.

Earlier this year there was a series of incidents in which Asian-Americans were the targets of racist attacks inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Given all that we've seen in the past half-decade, it makes sense for many to believe that race relations in the U.S. are on the decline.

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Photo courtesy of Macy's
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Did you know that girls who are encouraged to discover and develop their strengths tend to be more likely to achieve their goals? It's true. The question, however, is how to encourage girls to develop self-confidence and grow up healthy, educated, and independent.

The answer lies in Girls Inc., a national nonprofit serving girls ages 5-18 in more than 350 cities across North America. Since first forming in 1864 to serve girls and young women who were experiencing upheaval in the aftermath of the Civil War, they've been on a mission to inspire girls to kick butt and step into leadership roles — today and in the future.

This is why Macy's has committed to partnering with Girls Inc. and making it easy to support their mission. In a national campaign running throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases to the nearest dollar or donate online to support Girls Inc. and empower girls throughout the country.


Kaylin St. Victor, a senior at Brentwood High School in New York, is one of those girls. She became involved in the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc. when she was in 9th grade, quickly becoming a role model for her peers.

Photo courtesy of Macy's

Within her first year in the organization, she bravely took on speaking opportunities and participated in several summer programs focused on advocacy, leadership, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). "The women that I met each have a story that inspires me to become a better person than I was yesterday," said St. Victor. She credits her time at Girls Inc. with making her stronger and more comfortable in her own skin — confidence that directly translates to high achievement in education and the workforce.

In 2020, Macy's helped raise $1.3 million in support of their STEM and college and career readiness programming for more than 26,000 girls. In fact, according to a recent study, Girls Inc. girls are significantly more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, to be interested in STEM careers, and to perform better on standardized math tests.

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