COLUMBUS (WCMH) – The United States has passed a grim milestone – more than 500,000 lives lost to COVID-19 in just over a year.
President Joe Biden has ordered all flags flown over federal grounds to half staff, holding an address to the nation and a moment of silence Monday night.
Of those 500,000 deaths, nearly 17,000 are Ohioans.
Herb Goetz spent 30 years in the Navy as a Chaplain and after his service, he continued as a Chaplain for many years. His wife, Mary Ann, said he always brought smiles to those around him and had tons of energy.
“Oh, I could hardly keep up with him,” Mary Ann said.
Even as he got older, it was only COVID-19 that truly slowed Herb down.
“He had this sticker in the car – Lead, Follow, or Get Out Of The Way – and that would summarize his personality,” Mary Ann said. “He was just definitely a leader and a heart of compassion for people.”
Like thousands of other families across Ohio who’ve lost loved ones to the coronavirus, Mary Ann cherishes the time she had together with Herb. At 86, he was in a long-term care facility when he caught COVID-19.
He died from the virus five days before Christmas.
As the nation surpasses 500,000 deaths, Mary Ann is a reminder of the lives and families behind those numbers.
“Lives lost, family members, mothers, fathers, teachers,” she said. “It’s just really tragic that we’ve lost so many. A half a million people.”
She has a photo of Herb in Sorrento, Italy, where they had been stationed and visited often after his service. It’s one of the many memories she’ll continue to hold onto.
“He’ll be missed, but his legacy of love will live on and that’s the thing we’ve got to remember,” Mary Ann said.
Herb Goetz is set to be buried in Arlington Cemetery in June, something he always wanted, his wife said.