MTA Creates Poignant ‘Living Memorial’ For 136 Employees Lost To COVID-19

Claire Leaden Claire Leaden

MTA Creates Poignant ‘Living Memorial’ For 136 Employees Lost To COVID-19

NYC has suffered immeasurable loss from COVID-19, with over 26,000 New Yorkers killed by the virus. And now there is a special tribute to one important group of essential workers: transportation heroes.

On Monday, January 25, the MTA revealed a digital art memorial dedicated to their 136 workers lost to COVID, that will be visible to New Yorkers in subway stations across the city. The tribute to those lost much too soon is for the “heroes who dedicated their lives to moving New Yorkers through the city and region.”

The heart-wrenching tribute is designed around photographs from the family members of those tragically lost, paired with a poem by Tracy K. Smith, former U.S. Poet Laureate, that was commissioned for the project called “TRAVELS FAR.” It will appear in multiple different languages in the different subway stations.

Courtesy MTA

The dedications runs eight minutes long, and can be seen on 138 three-panel screens at 107 subway stations. It will run Monday, Jan. 25 through Sunday, February 7, and be played at 10:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. daily.

You can also view it from afar online here.

“The pandemic has marked an unimaginably challenging and painful time at New York City Transit,” said Interim President of MTA New York City Transit Sarah Feinberg, who requested the memorial.

“Today marks the next step in our ongoing efforts to honor the colleagues, friends and family members who were taken from us too soon. These men and women were the heroes of the transit system – conductors, bus and train operators, cleaners – but they were also mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters. We think of them daily and we continue to mourn them with their friends and families.”

Courtesy MTA

Here is the beautiful poem:

TRAVELS FAR by Tracy K. Smith   

What you gave—    

brief tokens of regard,    

soft words uttered    

barely heard,     

the smile glimpsed    

from a passing car. 

Through stations    

and years, through    

the veined chambers            

of a stranger’s heart—             

what you gave    

travels far. 

The tribute will be visible in 107 subway stations; you can find the full list of stations here.

featured image source: Courtesy MTA

See also: This Artist Leaves Beautiful Floral Hearts All Over NYC To ‘Provide Support & Love To Those Impacted By COVID-19’

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