Thank you for your support of the National AIDS Memorial Grove, which has allowed the Grove to mature in ways that continue to nurture a once-devastated community, a community still in need of nurturing.
At the western end of the National AIDS Memorial Grove sits the Circle of Peace, dedicated to all individuals who have been forgotten by the AIDS pandemic, to all the names and struggles and lives that have vanished from memory. In this broken circle is part of a poem by Thom Gunn. It reads:
Walker within this circle, pause.
Although they all died of one cause,
Remember how their lives were dense
With fine, compacted difference…
Like the Circle of Peace, Gunn’s poem resounds with echoes of stories never told, of people whose sole connection to each other is AIDS. The Circle of Peace asks us to remember, and by remembering, give meaning.
Twenty-two years ago, the National AIDS Memorial Grove was borne out of a community’s desire to create a place for survivors to begin the healing process. It now stands as a testament to both the individual and the community’s will to live through pain, loss and tragedy.
As the AIDS pandemic continues to ravage the global community, the experience of those impacted by HIV/AIDS is changing. For many, the physical, social and emotional experience is vastly improved. Together with the pandemic, the National AIDS Memorial Grove continues to evolve. In the coming years, the Memorial will grow in both reach and scope, increasing our ability to tell the stories of those impacted by HIV/AIDS so that never again will our national conscience allow a community to be devastated by an epidemic because of fear, silence, discrimination and stigma.
Guiding this process, a new mission statement emerged — 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.
Reflecting on how the Grove is to fulfil this mission, our challenge over the next few years is not just creating or maintaining in perpetuity a place of remembrance. Our challenge over the next few years is in becoming a site where all the stories from the epidemic are told, with dignity, elegance and redemption.
As you may be aware, the past three years have seen marked changes in the Grove, from the restoration of the Victorian Waterfall to the restoration of Golden Gate Park’s original Rhododendron Dell on the South Slope of the Meadow. This next year will see several critical additional improvements in the Grove, much needed repairs that need to be completed so that the Grove is as accessible and open to anyone who wishes to visit the space. This next year’s work of remediation and repair is just the beginning of what will be an ambitious, creative and considered five-year agenda.
To embark upon such an endeavour, we need your help. The Grove would not exist if not for the help, love and financial support of people like you. It is for this reason that I again reach out, asking you to recommit to supporting a strong and vital future for the Grove.
As the all-encompassing holidays move ever closer, please take a few minutes to remember the National AIDS Memorial Grove in your year-end giving.