San Franciscans commemorated World AIDS Day on Wednesday at the National AIDS Memorial Grove in a kaleidoscopic display of candles and lights, musical performances and a Circle of Friends for reflection among redwoods. During the event, they read names in remembrance of those who died from the condition.
A special poetry reading also took place in an adjacent Musical Concourse at the 10-acre memorial, which Congress and former President Bill Clinton set aside in a 1996 law for memorial services and private reflection.
The free, in-person event was also live-streamed.
Christine Pelosi, a former board member of the memorial, connected the place to the people who showed up to honor loved ones after speaking at the event.
“For those families to be able to come here, sometimes years later, and give them the proper sendoff and respect that they deserve was really, really powerful,” Pelosi told KTVU in a televised interview.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), spearheaded that 25-year-old effort to designate the Grove as the national AIDS memorial of the United States congresswoman.
“On World AIDS Day, and every day, let us summon the spirit of courage, ingenuity and cooperation necessary to end the stigma, advance health equity and finally banish HIV/AIDS to the dustbin of history,” Pelosi said in a statement.
Last year AIDS-related illnesses killed nearly 700,000 people worldwide.