While I was visiting San Francisco, I took a walk through Golden Gate Park and as chance would have it I found the National AIDS Memorial. It was a life changing happenstance that opened my eyes to not only the 1980’s AIDS epidemic in America (most notably San Francisco), but also around the world. It was established in 1996 to serve as a place of remembrance and healing. The grove is for those who have been both directly and indirectly touched by AIDS. I was immediately drawn to the substantial stone engraved “National AIDS Memorial.” So, I let my curiosity take over and I followed the winding path down to the Circle of Friends.
The Circle of Friends is a granite circle located at the bottom of the descending path with the inscription of over 2,200 names. These are the people who have lost their battle with AIDS and their memory lives on here at the grove. There are flowers which have been delicately placed in the middle of the circle. It is a solemn, yet beautiful place to meditate. I sat for a while on a nearby bench and my heart was happy that there was this peaceful place to reflect on the lives lost. It is rarely crowded here and one can often find him or herself alone to ponder and reflect.
There are a plethora of trees and plants which envelope the grove creating a sense of privacy. Take a moment to listen to the waterfall and escape for a bit. Run your hands along the inscriptions and quietly read the names; try to think of their lives. Read the messages of support and courage on engraved stones. Stroll through the rhododendrons and among the redwoods. The grove has ten acres of landscaped beauty to walk through, so take your time. Thanks to the tireless work of many volunteers, the grove is well-maintained and aesthetically-pleasing. Many of the quotes on the stones are so profound, such as this one, “They question each other. The young, the golden-hearted of the world that they were robbed of in their quiet paradise.”
I commend San Francisco for creating an inviting, peaceful, and sacred place to honor their memory. After 2017, names can no longer be added to the Circle of Friends due to a lack of space; however, there is room for forty more names (visit their website for details.) More information regarding The National AIDS Memorial Grove and the Circle of Friends can be found on their website. It is also free of charge to visit the memorial. Simply go to gain a deeper appreciation of the struggles of both the victims and their families and friends. Use the opportunity to teach your children or friends more about it! Take a flower and have a peaceful visit.
Thank you reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it and look for subsequent posts that I’ll share in the near future regarding this topic. If you know someone who has lost his or her battle with AIDS, please feel free to share the story in the comments. If you want to share your memories of the San Francisco 1980’s AIDS epidemic, I would love to hear about it! Share anything you wish! The National AIDS Memorial Grove is always seeking volunteers if you live in the San Francisco area and are interested. They also are always accepting stories about loved ones whose names are engraved at The Circle of Friends so we learn more about their lives.