At Thursday's state ceremony in memory of victims of the pandemic, King Felipe said that the best tribute that can be paid is that of determination in face of adversity and of the spirit of the Spanish people in overcoming this adversity.
The King referred to a "moral obligation and civic duty". "The moral obligation," he observed, "is to always recognise, respect and remember the dignity of the deceased and especially the spirit of that admirable generation of Spaniards. The civic duty is to preserve and foster the best values that underpin our coexistence."
These obligations are ones to which "all Spaniards should commit themselves", the King stating that effort and commitment need to be united "in being able to look to the future with confidence and hope and to do so with respect and understanding".
The ceremony, he continued, marks a day that "will be engraved" in the hearts, memories and consciences. This is because tribute has been paid to the deceased, while at the same time there is recognition of "thousands of citizens, whose actions have set the best examples of civic and moral duties".
To the relatives of the deceased, the King conveyed his "deepest regret and heartfelt consolation", a pain that is shared, he emphasised. He had special words for the elderly, who have been among the majority of the victims and who have died "after lives of working hard to get ahead and with great hopes of achieving progress for their children". "Lives that changed the course of our history, affirmed freedom and tolerance, and built our democratic coexistence day by day. Some lives, whose calling for harmony, will always invite quiet reflection and gratitude."
The King also remembered those "who had a whole future ahead of them" and who have left "great emptiness in the souls of their families and great sorrow for the whole of society". The tribute, he acknowledged, cannot alleviate the pain of families, but it can "do justice to their lives" and to their contributions to society.
He expressed his "immense gratitude" to all those who have "sustained the pulse" of the country under difficult circumstances, highlighting health workers, the security forces and workers in essential services. They have carried out their work "in service of the common good" during a crisis that put Spain "to the test". "It is time to feel proud of the responsibility shown by the whole of the Spanish people during this hard and difficult period."
The King referred to the "many people in solitude, many others suffering from the disease in their homes, and entire families, who have accepted confinement in their homes with great integrity, self-denial and discipline, knowing that their conscious and committed attitude was essential and continues to be in combating the pandemic".
The situation has been difficult, "very difficult", because of uncertainty, fears for jobs, and sheer fatigue added to fears for health. However, the King believed that over the past months, there has been a lesson of "immense value"; "Spain has shown its best spirit." When this time is remembered in the future, he added, it will be looked upon "as an example once again in the history of Spain of civic responsibility, maturity, resistance, and commitment to others".
Following his address, the King laid a wreath by a cauldron of flame in Madrid's Plaza de la Armería.