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Amelia Kashian
Amelia Kashian
Features Editor

Being passionate is one of the best parts of being human, and I am glad that writing has helped me recognize that. I have been writing stories since I was a little girl, and over...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Opinion-- A list of regrets before I graduate
Opinion-- A list of regrets before I graduate
Sal Wiertella March 1, 2024

Marquette commemorates one year with COVID-19

Madelyn+Gabka+performs+at+the+Ode+to+Joy%2Fremembrance+of+Sorrow+event.
Photo courtesy of Margaret Brumm MENDING MUSIC— NMU student Madeline Gabka performs for the “Ode to Joy/Remembrance of sorrow” event. March 10th marked one year of COVID-19 officially in Michigan.

Wednesday, March 10 was the one year anniversary of the pandemic in Michigan. The date was recognized at the state level. A press release from The Office of Governor Gretchen Whitmer detailed the governor’s order to honor the lives that have been lost.

“Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has ordered U.S. and Michigan flags within the State Capitol Complex and upon all public buildings and grounds across the State of Michigan to be lowered to half-staff on Wednesday, March 10 to honor the one-year anniversary of the coronavirus in Michigan and mourn those who have lost their lives to COVID-19,” the press release said. “Michiganders are also being asked to turn on the lights outside of their homes on Wednesday, March 10, from 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., in remembrance of the Michiganders we have lost.”

NMU also commemorated the anniversary by lowering the flags on campus one year since the university had to shut down due to COVID-19. In an email sent out to students, they paid respects to those who had lost their lives to the virus.

“Northern has lowered the U.S. and Michigan flags on campus to half-staff today (Wednesday, March 10) in honor of the one-year anniversary of the first confirmed COVID-19 case in the state, and the 598,014 infected and 15,670 who died due to the coronavirus since then. In addition, Michiganders are being asked to turn on the lights outside of their homes from 8-9p.m. tonight (Wednesday) in remembrance of the Michiganders that have been lost in the pandemic during the past year,” the email said.

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On the morning of Saturday, March 13, people gathered in Mattson Lower Harbor Park for “Ode To Joy/Remembrance of Sorrow,” an event arranged by Marquette native and global patent attorney Margaret Brumm. The event featured a performance by senior music major Madeline Gabka. Gabka specializes in the trumpet, which she has played for 15 years. Last year, the pandemic prevented her from performing at her senior recital, so having the opportunity to play for a crowd again reignited her passion for the trumpet.

“There was a period of time throughout this past year that I think I lost myself and I lost that passion,” Gabka said. 

Brumm asked Gabka to perform at the event, which Brumm arranged in order to remember those who have passed away during the pandemic and thank all of the people who have stepped up to lend a helping hand.

Brumm was initially inspired by Jackson’s Pit Bar and Gourmet Grill in Negaunee, Michigan. When schools closed on March 13 last year, the restaurant provided lunches for the children. Brumm was given the opportunity to help by distributing books and coordinating a homework program to help the children keep learning from home. She says the program was beneficial for the children, and it helped her get through the first weeks of the pandemic. Brumm and Gabka also wanted to thank groups such as Masks for Marquette, who make face masks for those in need.

On the other hand, many lives have been lost in the past year, and Brumm wanted to acknowledge that as well, especially because many people could not gather for funerals.

“If you lose somebody, you expect to gather and cry and talk and eat and laugh and catch up,” Brumm said. “And because of the pandemic those basic situations didn’t happen.”

The event got its name, “Ode to Joy/Remembrance of Sorrow,” from a saying Brumm learned in her childhood: Shared joy is increased, shared pain and sadness are decreased.

“If you’re happy about something and you share it with people, they’re happy for you,” Brumm said. “When you’re sad about something and you share it with people, they show you empathy.”

Gabka played a few songs at the event, including “Ode to Joy” and the jazz standard “Misty” by Erroll Garner. She concluded her performance with “Taps.” “Taps” is traditionally played at sunset, but Brumm made an exception for this event.

“I think ‘Taps’ for the last year is a good thing,” Brumm said. “I think we need to remind ourselves that this past year, for good or bad, is done.”

About 12 people attended the event, where they were welcome to share stories of loved ones who had passed away. After each story, the group sang a verse of “Kumbaya.” Gabka says music, even sad music, has helped her process her emotions during the pandemic. She says it can do the same for others.

“I definitely think that music can heal,” Gabka said. “Music can help you get through really tough times by helping you get those raw emotions out and feel.”

Brumm hopes “Ode to Joy/Remembrance of Sorrow” will remind people that it is okay to reflect on good and bad experiences, even while still in the midst of the pandemic.

“You don’t necessarily have to wait until it’s over to remember,” Brumm said. “And sometimes it’s really important to see the progress you’ve made in the last year.”

Brumm points to the rising numbers of vaccinated people as an optimistic sign for the future. Gabka is also optimistic. Although 2020 saw many tragedies, Gabka says it has been a beneficial experience that has allowed many people to undergo personal growth.

“We will eventually come out on the other side of this,” Gabka said. “And I think there could be more compassion for other people, more understanding.”

As for her music, Gabka is looking forward to performing again now that her passion for the trumpet has been renewed.

“That fire is being relit, and I really hope that it just keeps growing,” Gabka said. “And my really big hope for the future is to be able to perform, whether it’s for 12 people or if it’s for 100 people.”

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