For a few hours on April 16, the famed Matterhorn on the Swiss Alps was illuminated with the American flag to show support for the United States in the global crisis brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.
Most recent statistics from the World Health Organization indicate 2,164, 111 confirmed COVID-19 cases in 213 countries, with 146,198 deaths. The United States currently leads all countries in the number of COVID-19 infections with 665,330 confirmed cases.
The illumination on the Matterhorn showed Switzerland’s solidarity with the United States and other countries in this global crisis. The tourism organization Zermatt Matterhorn stated, “Our thoughts are with all American people at this unprecedented time. May our message convey solidarity and give you hope and strength. We look forward to meeting again at the foot of the Matterhorn, we are all in this together.”
Renowned light artist Gerry Hofstetter projected the flag onto the 14,692 foot tall peak in the Swiss Alps. The light display is part of a nightly series designed to show the town of Zermatt’s support for those fighting and enduring the pain of the pandemic and the global crisis.
“The Matterhorn has always been a symbol of Switzerland and a place of strength and stability. Zermatt is convinced: as strong as the Matterhorn, so strong must the society stand together, be anchored and let the storm pass.”
Zermatt Matterhorn added, “With this light projection, Zermatt wants to give people a sign of hope and solidarity in these difficult times. The village shows solidarity with all the people who are currently suffering and is grateful to all those who are helping to overcome the global crisis.”
Hofstetter is known for projecting images onto various landmarks – including mountains, buildings, monuments, and even icebergs! – to create temporary art installations. In 2012, he shined a full-sized image of the Titanic onto a huge Antarctic iceberg to mark the 100th anniversary of the ship’s sinking.
Hofstetter is not just a light artist – he is also an event designer, athlete, and helicopter pilot with extensive military experience. He is a retired captain of the Mountain Grenadier in the Swiss Armed Forces, sniper and explosives expert, specialist in special operations and search and rescue in mountain warfare, and instructor in combat tactics in the Alpine region. He has won numerous awards and recognition for his extensive light displays in Switzerland and other parts of the world.
Since March 24, Hofstetter has been lighting up the Matterhorn with different images to send messages of positivity to the rest of the world. Aside from the United States, the Matterhorn has been adorned with the flags Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and others countries embroiled in the global crisis, along with the hashtags #hope and #allofus.
When the flag of Japan was projected on the mountain peak, Zermatt Matterhorn wrote, “Switzerland and Japan have maintained a close exchange for many decades. With Myoko and Fujikawaguchiko, Zermatt has two sister cities in the land of the rising sun. We greet our Japanese friends, partners and guests and send them a sign of hope and strength to overcome this unusual and difficult time.”
Zermatt Matterhorn then stated when the German flag was projected, “Like many European countries, our neighboring country Germany is suffering greatly from the Corona crisis.
Many German citizens have a close relationship with Switzerland and Zermatt. With the German flag on the Matterhorn, the Swiss symbolic mountain, we send a sign of solidarity across the currently closed borders and look forward to the time when mutual visits are once again possible.”
The popular tourist destination also projected the message “Dream now — Travel later,” to encourage people to stay home – for now.
Zermatt Matterhorn stated, “We know that you are longing to visit us. Soon we can meet again. For the moment, however, health is our priority. But dreaming is not prohibited. We support you with great pictures in this travel-free time and send you our best wishes from the Matterhorn.”
Images of the amazing light display can be viewed live on webcams set up by Zermatt Matterhorn.