Madrid [Spain], July 16 (Xinhua/ANI): Spain on Thursday paid homage to approximately 28,500 people who have lost their lives in the coronavirus pandemic in a solemn ceremony held at the Royal Palace here.
The memorial was attended by the Spanish Royal Family, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and other Spanish political leaders. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyden, European Council President Charles Michel, NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus were also present.
Health service professionals, care home workers, cleaners and representatives of the police and armed forces, as well as family members of those who had lost their lives to the virus were also invited.
The attendees were seated in chairs arranged in a circle at a safe social distance around a flame in memory of those who had died.
Only three people addressed the memorial -- Spain's King Felipe VI, Hernando Calleja, the brother of journalist Jose Maria Calleja who died from the virus and Aroa Lopez, a nurse from Vall d'Hebron University Hospital in Barcelona.
Hernando Calleja said that it was people's "duty" to remember those who had died and that "every family carries the same hurt for the death of their loved ones."
"We will never forget those who have died," he said.
In her impassioned speech, Lopez said that health workers "covered basic and emotional needs".
"I want to thank everyone for their support with all my heart and I want you to think of those who died and of the health workers -- may our efforts not be in vain and I want to ask those in power to defend the health service," she said.
King Felipe VI praised all Spaniards for their efforts during the crisis.
"It has been very difficult, a moment of worry about jobs and uncertainty. But Spain has shown its best spirit. An example of civility, maturity, resistance and commitment for others. We have the moral obligation to recognise and respect the dignity of those who have died and the civic duty to promote the values that are vital in our society," he said. (Xinhua/ANI)