SAN FRANCISCO—Supporters, volunteers and activists gathered in San Francisco at the National AIDS Memorial in Golden Gate Park at “The Grove.” The location became a spot for community healing and victim remembrance. It’s been 25 years since the outbreak of the AIDS epidemic. The Grove became a national memorial in 1996 due to the legislation signed by Bill Clinton. The Grove is used as a place of remembrance so that the lives of people who died from AIDS are not forgotten and the stories of the epidemic – stories of profound love, courage, resilience and unrelenting mobilization for social justice – are known by future generations.
The original founders of the memorial were recognized during the ceremony for their work in restoring the landscape and providing a peaceful place for those who were impacted by AIDS to find comfort, solace and solidarity, according to organizers.
“Today, this memorial has evolved into a national treasure for our entire country to remember, seek comfort and ensure that we always keep their memory alive in our hearts,” said Jack Porter, a volunteer who lost his partner to AIDS in 1989 in the statement.
NBC Bay Area spoke with organizers who indicated 25,000 volunteers have dedicated more than 150,000 hours over the past 25 years up-keeping the landscape at the memorial during community volunteer workdays.
According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 36.9 million people around the world are currently living with HIV/AIDS. Roughly 35 million have died from symptoms from the disease, according to a statement issued by event organizers.
The National AIDS Memorial Grove will be having its 7th Annual Light in the Grove fundraising gala on Wednesday, November 30. The event brings together more than 600 people on the evening of Worlds AIDS Day. During the day, The Grove is illuminated to honor the sense of loss and to celebrate the spirit of hope. Attendees will participate in a candlelight reflection at the Circle of Friends, and wander reflectively through the spectacularly-illuminated Redwood Grove to a warmly-lit tent. There will be special musical and choreographed performances.