Ilhan Omar overcome with tears during COVID moment of silence after dad’s death

The Minneapolis representative was visibly moved at a ceremony to honor those lost to the novel coronavirus

Rep. Ilhan Omar is known for keeping her composure even during the most stressful circumstances. But this week the stoic lawmaker was moved to tears during a moment of silence held for those lost family to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Monday, Omar, whose father died of complications from the coronavirus last year at the age of 67, was spotted holding back tears while joining a bipartisan group of Congress members gathered on the east front steps of the U.S. Capitol building.

The gathering was meant to be a moment to be silent and reflect on the loss of approximately 600,000 lives in the United States due to the virus.

In June 2020, Omar issued a statement confirming her father Nur Omar Mohamed passed away.

“No words can describe what he meant to me and all who knew him,” the 38-year-old Democrat said at the time, adding: “My family and I ask for your respect and privacy during this time.”

Members Of Congress Mark 600,000 U.S. COVID-19 Deaths At Capitol
U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) tears up as members of Congress hold a moment of silence for the 600,000 American lives lost to COVID-19, on the steps of the U.S. Capitol on June 14, 2021. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

In a tweet last year echoing that statement, she wrote of her “tremendous sadness and pain … to say goodbye” to her father.

Omar also quoted the Quran: “Surely we belong to God and to Him shall we return.”

Nur Omar Mohamed was a taxi driver who later worked for the United States Postal Service.

In a 2018 interview with the New York Times, Omar spoke of her father’s influence in her life.

“‘Listen, these people who are doing all of these things to you, they’re not doing something to you because they dislike you,’” Omar recalled, “They are doing something to you because they feel threatened in some way by your existence.”

So it is understandable why she found herself overcome with emotion Monday evening as she stood with her colleagues for the moment of silence, followed by a rendition of “God Bless America” sung by a member of the Air Force Band.

Leading up to this week’s remembrance for COVID-19 victims, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer spoke about the “grim reality” of those who lost their lives just as “Americans were on the verge of getting the vaccine.”

“So, as our fellow Americans are taking their masks off, going back to work, seeing families and friends, and returning as they should to life, let us remember those who cannot,” Schumer said. “Let us hold them in our hearts a little while longer.”

As we previously reported, last year when The Ink publisher, Anand Giridharadas, posed a question on Twitter asking, “Is seemingly our entire top political leadership getting the vaccine ahead of others because of their age or their importance?” – Omar was one of the first lawmakers to respond.

“It would make sense if it was age, but unfortunately it’s of important and it’s shameful,” she tweeted.

She continued with, “We are not more important then frontline workers, teachers etc. who are making sacrifices everyday. Which is why I won’t take it. People who need it most, should get it. Full stop.”

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R), who originally downplayed the severity of the virus, was also angered by the prioritization of members of Congress receiving the shot. He posted on Twitter earlier this week to describe the whole ordeal as “outrageous” and “insulting.”

Have you subscribed to theGrio’s new podcast “Dear Culture”? Download our newest episodes now!

TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire, and Roku. Download theGrio today!