They stand at open windows or on balconies, singing, cheering and applauding in Rome, Madrid, Paris, Athens and elsewhere.
They know full well that their intended audience is too busy to listen, but the adulation goes on for a full minute, sometimes longer, for the doctors and nurses fighting the virus pandemic that has brought Europe to a standstill.
The minute is more than just gratitude — it's a way for neighbors to connect to each other and to the men and women on the front lines of a way against a microscopic enemy.
In Italy, the heart of the epidemic in Europe, 2,900 medical professionals have been infected, or 10% of the country's total. Each night, television networks show the harrowing tales of Italian doctors and nurses, exhausted after an eight, 12- or 18-hour shift, begging people to stay home and expressing their sense of abandonment at the lack of protective gear.
In Spain, a 52-year-old nurse with coronavirus died Thursday, the first medical worker to die of hundreds infected in that country.
In France, where the head of the national doctors' federation caught the illness from a diabetic patient who himself is hospitalized, the word went out on text and WhatsApp hours after the nationwide lockdown started on Tuesday. Windows opened promptly at 8 p.m.
While nonstop global news about the effects of the coronavirus have become commonplace, so, too, are the stories about the kindness of strangers and individuals who have sacrificed for others. "One Good Thing" is an AP continuing series reflecting these acts of kindness.
The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
Associated Press religion coverage receives support from the Lilly Endowment through the Religion News Foundation. The AP is solely responsible for this content.