Meghan Markle made a surprise appearance during the CNN Heroes special on Sunday night, giving thanks to those who have helped those in need during the coronavirus crisis. The appearance was the Duchess of Sussex’s first since penning a Thanksgiving week op-ed in which she revealed the loss of a recent pregnancy while acknowledging the “collective grief” we have shared since the onset of the pandemic, even while in individual isolation.
“This, I realize, is the danger of siloed living,” she wrote, “where moments sad, scary or sacrosanct are all lived out alone. There is no one stopping to ask, “Are you OK?”
Remarkably, 2020 began with the news cycle centered around Markle and husband Prince Harry, as they made their “Megxit” from royal life and eventually settled in California. But it was the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and its devastating socio-economic effects that the duchess was focused on in her just-over two-minute speech Sunday, presumably filmed in the garden of her Santa Barbara compound.
“In a year that has been universally challenging for everyone, I’m inspired by the stories of compassion in our communities,” Markle began (h/t People). “Across the country, people have put their own needs aside to come together and support the collective well-being of those around them.”
Back in March, the COVID-19 crisis hit hard, and overnight, everything seemed to change. For many families, the impact of the pandemic has been catastrophic, and far too many were faced with the heartbreaking question: How am I going to put food on the table for my family? But in the face of this devastating reality, we also saw the power of the human spirit and the remarkable ways that communities respond in challenging times. We saw the good in people, in our neighbors and in entire communities coming together to say they would not stand by while our neighbors went hungry. We saw communities standing up and taking action.
As Congress continues to debate over a long-withheld stimulus package that would provide at least meager relief to millions of families and individuals facing not only unemployment and eviction but hunger as the next set of holidays approach, Markle, who, along with her husband, has been spotted volunteering at various charities in recent months, praised the efforts of those “quiet heroes” who have rallied to ensure those in need have the most basic of necessities.
When kids’ lunch programs came to a halt, we saw our neighbors make sure that those children received the nutrition they need. And when those who are immunocompromised or most vulnerable couldn’t leave their homes, we, as a community, showed up to deliver the food they needed to their doorsteps. We know the value of food—as nourishment, as a life source—and in the moments of crisis, the warmth of a meal can feel as comforting as a much-needed hug, especially in the absence of human contact due to the social distancing we’re all experiencing. These moments reminded so many that they’re cared for...They made sure those around them did not have to suffer in isolation.
Concluding her speech, Markle again invoked the importance of checking in on each other—and the tremendous power of empathy in a moment when many of us have been left feeling powerless by circumstances not of our own making.
“They nourished their neighbors in more ways than one,” she said. “And they showed us, all of us, that even in the darkest times, when we come together, we have the power to remind someone else that there is hope, and that we will be okay.”