Today is World AIDS Day, a day that reminds me of a trip I took to Washington, D.C. more than ten years ago. There are some sights that can only be adequately described in photos or in words–a person has to see them for the full effect. These are the sights that take your breath away. The Grand Canyon, the statue of David and the Names Project Quilt are the three that have moved me the most.
In 1996, when I stepped out of the metro at the Mall and saw the sea of fabric rectangles sewn together into panels that stretched in every direction–each individual panel the size of a grave, I was stunned. Where does one start to take in such loss? I started by looking for my dad’s first cousin who had died of AIDS. My father’s cousin did have a panel that friends of his had made for him. Among the sea were several friends of my brother’s as well.
Even though the Names Quilt has grown in size beyond the boundaries of the Mall–it’s currently made up of 40,000 panels– it’s possible to see sections of it throughout the year. Here’s a link to the list of current locations where parts of the quilt are on display. Most states have at least one location.
You can also visit the The NAMES Project Foundation headquarters in Atlanta where it’s possible to view specific sections of the quilt if you contact the foundation ahead of time.
Until you’re able to see part of the quilt in person, here’s a tribute I came across. The song “The Morning Train” sung by Kickin Grass Band reminds me of southeastern Kentucky where another cousin–my mother’s first cousin, is buried in the family cemetery. He also died of AIDS.