World AIDS Day, Dec. 1: March to the Key West AIDS memorial



On World AIDS Day, Friday, Dec. 1, at 4:30 p.m., join the Friends of the AIDS Memorial, city and county officials and Key West residents and friends in front of the historic Key West City Hall on White Street. There will be a short candlelight march to the only official AIDS memorial in the United States at Edward B. Knight Pier.

The World AIDS Day national theme this year is “Increasing Impact Through Transparency, Accountability, and Partnerships.”

A brief ceremony will start at about 5 p.m. at the Key West AIDS Memorial. The program will include featured speaker Joan Higgs, music and the reading of names on the memorial. Five new names are being added to the memorial this year.

The Key West AIDS Memorial is a tribute to people who have died of AIDS. Their names are inscribed on flat, black granite monuments that are embedded in the walkway approaching White Street Pier on the Atlantic Ocean. The memorial was dedicated 20 years ago on World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, 1997.

It was built with private funds and donated to the city of Key West. At the time of dedication, 730 names were included, listed in random order. In succeeding years, additional names have been added. There are now 1,260 names engraved on the memorial. The Key West AIDS Memorial is an official city park.

The memorial is maintained by the Friends of the AIDS Memorial, whose mission is to preserve and enhance the memorial and to ensure the dignity and respect for those whose names are engraved there.

Following the ceremony, specific sections of the AIDS Memorial Quilt — the 54-ton handmade tapestry that stands as a memorial to more than 96,000 individuals lost to AIDS, will be on display at the Key West Art and Historical Society Custom House in a cooperative effort between AIDS Help, The Customs House, and the Friends of the AIDS Memorial. The quilt panels were last displayed in Key West in 1995 at the Gato Building and are maintained by the NAMES Project.

Following tradition, The Tree of Hope will also be on display at the Customs House for those who want to make a donation to AIDS Help, and put a remembrance note on the tree. ¦

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