ANNAPOLIS, Md. — On Friday Governor Larry Hogan stood on the illuminated steps of the State House in Annapolis to mark the one year since the first COVID-19 cases were detected in Maryland.
Together with first lady Yumi Hogan, Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, state Senate President Bill Ferguson, House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones, they held a twilight vigil honoring the lives lost.
Also in attendance, Rev. Johnny Calhoun, senior pastor of Mount Olive AME Church in Annapolis. He offered an impassioned summary of the past year.
“Today we gather, gather to remember the 7,700 people who have died of COVID-19,” Calhoun said. “Died in the fair state of Maryland."
Calhoun said the deaths “began as a raindrop” 13 days after those first cases were detected in Montgomery County, followed by a raging storm as the death toll and positive test results grew.
Talking to WMAR-2 News following his closing benediction he offered these words to Marylanders.
"There’s hope," he said. "We're turning a corner. There’s light at the end of the tunnel and that this horrific storm is passing over."
Also in attendance at the vigil was Judy and David Lorenz. The couple from Bowie attended to pay honor to the lives lost, including Judy's mother, Veronica "Ronnie" Nagel.
"She lived a wonderful life," said Judy. "She passed on Thanksgiving morning. I wasn't able to be by her side because of the circumstances surrounding the pandemic."
Judy shared with WMAR a poem she wrote on her mother's passing. It's called 'The COVID Good Bye' and reads:
Not feeling safe to go inside,
Near to her window I did cry
By video call I saw her face
And prayed that she would
feel God's grace
I prayed and sang at my wailing wall
as Mom would heed God's final call
Expressed my family's thanks and love
felt hers right back two floors above
Like hundreds of thousands I walked
away waiting for the end of day
In dark of night the landline rang
my dad did smile, the angels sang
Her 95-years on earth now done
the battle over --- she had won
Without our dear one's warm embrace
Unable to meet face to face
we grieve our loss from far apart
where separation breaks the heart
But we will rise, peace will ensue
And there are some things you can do
On behalf of us and health care too,
this I humbly ask:
Please keep your distance safely,
and kindly wear your mask.
Friday's twilight vigil was part of Maryland's Day of Remembrance.
During Governor Hogan remarks he paid honor to the lives lost and also gave thanks to health care professionals and front-line workers.
"Tonight we are reminded, in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., that “Darkness cannot drive out darkness—only light can do that.” May our love for one another light our path forward, because we truly are all in this together. We will get through this together, and we will emerge better, stronger, and more resilient than ever," Hogan said.
The twilight vigil closed with a moment of silent prayer.
RELATED: A Year of COVID-19 in Maryland