“Rose River” of COVID-19 losses

THE ROSE RIVER Memorial (not the same as above) commemorating the lives lost in the coronavirus pandemic will be at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove (Flickr/Manel Zaera)

The OC Autism Foundation is sponsoring a display of roses that commemorates Orange County’s collective loss of life due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Rose River Memorial will initially be set up at the world-famous Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove, the spiritual home of the Bishop of Orange, as part of a traveling exhibit that will eventually make its way into a larger display in Washington, D.C., in time for National COVID Memorial Day in March 2022.

The display is comprised of more than 4,000 handmade roses created by sponsors and community volunteers.

“The memorial visualizes our collective loss and seeks to generate community healing,” said the memorial’s artist, Marcos Lutyens. He added that he believes grief must be acknowledged and addressed in the local community.

The rose is a national flower of the United States. Red roses are used in funerals and symbolize courage and valor — two characteristics needed by the Orange County community to get through these difficult times, Lutyens said.

“Our community is stronger when we come together for a common cause and lend our support to one another each day, especially in times of need,” said Julie Diep, director of the OC Autism Foundation, which advocates for inclusion and equal access to vaccines, health care and education for those living with autism and other disabilities.

Bishop Kevin Vann will offer a blessing of the memorial today (Tuesday). The display will initially be set up within Christ Cathedral’s Cultural Center, amd then moved to the campus’ Small Gallery space.

Individuals interested in contributing to Rose River Memorial can go online to order a rose-making kit to honor loved ones. For more information or to donate, visit .

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