Wall of Remembrance at Union Station

Published on March 19, 2021

Leaders of the Kansas City area CORE-4 joined together March 16, 2021, to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the announced restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The leaders from Kansas City, Jackson, Johnson and Wyandotte counties unveiled a Floral Wall of Remembrance at Union Station in honor of those who have suffered from the virus. The floral wall was designed by Studio Dan Meiners.

Jackson County Executive Frank White, Jr., Johnson County Commissioner Ed Eilert, Kansas City, Kansas, Mayor David Alvey and Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas all left notes on the wall.

The four reflected on the pandemic and its effect on the community.

Jackson County Executive Frank White, Jr., said despite the precautions that were put in place, too many lives were lost. According to the Mid-America Regional Council, 2,291 died from COVID-19 in the metropolitan area.

“We had to stay home, we had to socially distance, and we had to wear masks. Many of us got sick with COVID and survived. Unfortunately, many more did not. We lost hundreds of lives far too soon,” he said.

Two of those who lost their lives were Jackson County associates, Robert “Bobby” Mitchell and JoEllen Engelbart.

“This deadly virus has caused so much pain and suffering in the two states, six counties, dozens of cities and hundreds of communities we represent across the metro,” White said. “As a community we can decide to come together and make our community better for all. We can choose to build back a stronger and more equitable community. We can do so in honor of those we have lost and for the generations yet to come.”

Lucas said, “It was heartbreaking. It's hard to take food off somebody’s table, but it's harder to see people die when you know you could’ve done more. And that's why we made the choices we did.”

Alvey reflected on receiving news that a Wyandotte County resident was the first person in Kansas to die from the virus. He also commented on the reluctance that leaders felt when they enacted the pandemic’s first restrictions, as well as their determination to protect their residents.

“I think we are on a different trajectory than we were a year ago,” Eilert said. “The vaccines are available and become more available every week that we go on. Every county, every jurisdiction in the metropolitan area is actively involved in providing those vaccines.”

The public is invited to leave notes honoring those who lost lives or to express their feelings on the wall over the next two weeks.