SMU to Remember Lives Lost on Pandemic Anniversary

March 8, 2021

Dear SMU Community,

One year ago this week, on March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global pandemic. Two days later, on March 13, 2020, the SMU community left the Hilltop for an extended spring break, expecting to return for normal spring activities by the end of the month. Today, it’s hard to remember full classrooms or shaking hands with a professor, but we are hopeful for that time again.

On March 11, 2020, the WHO director-general reported more than 118,000 cases in 114 countries, and 4,291 lives lost due to COVID-19. As of Friday, there were over 116 million cases reported in approximately 218 countries, and 2.58 million people have lost their lives to COVID-19. These staggering numbers represent real people, our loved ones – members of the SMU community, our neighbors, our friends and our family. Some of us privately grieve deep personal loss as we all grieve our collective losses of the last year.

At noon on Thursday, March 11, SMU will pause to remember and reflect on these losses. Wherever you are on the Hilltop, you are invited to observe two minutes and 58 seconds of silence reflecting on the impact of this pandemic on your life, our communities and the world. At noon, a bell will toll from the carillon in Fondren Science Building, and at 12:03 p.m., a song of hope, Hymn of Promise, will play, reminding us “there’s a song in every silence.”

The words of WHO’s director-general one year ago still ring true today: “This is not just a public health crisis, it is a crisis that will touch every sector – so every sector and every individual must be involved in the fight …We’re in this together, to do the right things with calm and protect the citizens of the world.” We have now lived and experienced this truth for one full year. We have been and will continue to be world changers – masked up and caring for our neighbors from 6 feet apart! As vaccinations are distributed around the world, we are beginning to see, as the song says, “a dawn in every darkness bringing hope to you and me.”

Let us pause together at noon on Thursday to reflect, remember and look forward.

From the past will come the future;
what it holds, a mystery,
unrevealed until its season,
something God alone can see.

Mask Up! Pony Up! Stay Mustang Strong!

R. Gerald Turner

Rev. Lisa Garvin
Chaplain and Minister to the University

You are also invited to join Wednesday Worship at noon on March 17, 2021, for an opportunity to remember and name our personal and collective losses over the past year. The service at the flagpole will include the opportunity to write prayers on a ribbon that name your grief as part of a larger artistic display of our collective loss this year. Additional ribbons will be available in the Office of the Chaplain and Religious Life throughout March to add your prayers.