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July 2017: After shooting a conference in San Francisco, I had an afternoon to visit a couple of places I’d wanted to see in previous visits to the city. Ultimately I decided on the expansive Golden Gate Park, home to the de Young Museum and the National AIDS Memorial Grove, among many other attractions.
After spending two hours at the de Young’s exhibit commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love — another “Places” album — I walked toward the grove, a 10-acre memorial dedicated to those whose lives have been affected by this devastating pandemic over the past three-plus decades. Despite overcast, foggy skies, a female couple was walking through their wedding ceremony scheduled for the next day, and I had a lovely conversation with two college students who, like my own children, were not alive when the pandemic was at its worst.
San Francisco was one of the cities hardest hit by AIDS, and a small group of citizens developed the idea for the grove in 1988 as “a positive way to express their collective grief,” according to www.aidsmemorial.org. Eight years later, in 1996, Congress designated the grove as the national AIDS Memorial, giving it status comparable to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, and the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor.
The About section of the memorial’s website explains the mission beautifully: “to provide, in perpetuity, a place of remembrance so that the lives of people who died from AIDS are not forgotten and the story is known by future generations.”
To see a 2014 essay I wrote related to the AIDS crisis, click on this link.