TEMPE, AZ — As holiday decorations light up neighborhoods, the display outside a Tempe home this year is offering a much more somber message.
“It’s a sadness you just kind of face every day,” said homeowner Stephanie Williams.
Every few days, Williams reluctantly plants a small white flag in her yard, with a huge sign across her garage explaining their meaning.
“I thought I just need to do something that will remind us of all the fellow Americans we’re losing,” said Williams.
What began with just a few, now covers her entire front yard. Each flag represents a thousand faces now being mourned this Christmas due to COVID-19.
As of Thursday, more than 326,000 people have died fighting the coronavirus across the nation, with more than 8,000 in Arizona alone.
“It’s really a recognition of just how significant this is, it’s really hard to conceptualize big numbers,” said Neighbor Dan Anderson.
Anderson lives across the street and has watched Stephanie continue to add flags over the months.
On Thursday, he described how families stop and explain to their children what they’re seeing.
“Each of them, while they represent a thousand people, what about their spouses, what about their brothers and sisters, what about their children, their grandchildren,” said Anderson. "So many people are impacted by this loss."
Even as the New Year brings with it new hope of a potential end in sight, remembering who we lost along the way will prove essential in moving forward together.
“These people should not be forgotten,” said Williams.