To commemorate of the 25th anniversary of its groundbreaking, the National AIDS Memorial Grove has launched Stories from the Heart, a project that aims to capture and curate the vast and diverse voices of the AIDS epidemic. This project is one enactment of the Memorial’s mission 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.
Behind every AIDS death is a story. Behind each statistic is a person who is loved, who was someone’s brother, mother, friend, grandparent, lover. In addition, those who have survived for decades after being diagnosed with AIDS or HIV recall vividly the fear born of ignorance by those around them. The purpose of this project is to gather personal stories told by those who lived them, those who lost people they loved, and the countless volunteers, caregivers and activists who served in the cause of compassion.
In addition to the myriad individual stories of those who died and their survivors, we tell the broader story of the epidemic, which includes the enormous societal impact suffered as a result of the prejudice, discrimination and stigma attached to the disease, the creation of a web of service organizations that brought an astounding range of assistance and support to those suffering and the actions of many who eventually institutionalized compassion.
The multi-faceted story of AIDS holds critical lessons that must not be forgotten. Collectively, our stories will not only ensure that our lost loved ones are not forgotten – they will also inform future generations who seek social justice and equality, and inspire them to take action to improve their own communities and effect positive changes on society-at-large.
Twenty-five years ago, the National AIDS Memorial Grove was born out of a community’s need to create a place for survivors to begin the healing process, a process that continues to this day. Today it also stands as a testament to the unrelenting will of a community to unite and persevere through unimaginable pain, loss and tragedy. It is a brilliant beacon of hope for the future, exemplifying the transition from hopelessness to hope.
Here are the first stories of the collection. If you are interested in contributing a story we invite you click here.