Friends, family gather on eve of World AIDS Day

December 1, 2011 1:07:11 AM PST
On the eve of World AIDS Day, 500 people gathered in the National Aids Memorial Grove in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. The beauty of the setting were in stark contrast to the virus that is still raging around the world

There are real stories, real people remembered at the National Aids Memorial Grove in San Francisco.

"It's amazing to see something like this come out of the whole process," Sharon Marcus said.

It's a magical place of healing for those who lost loved ones to AIDS over the last three decades.

The memorial grove, on seven acres in Golden Gate Park, was created in 1991, 10 years into the AIDS epidemic when 17,000 San Francisco citizens had died.

"They were going to more funerals in a year than birthdays; so they started planting trees here and 120,000 volunteer hours later and 20 years later, we have not only what I think is the most revered part of the park but also a federally designated memorial," National Aids Memorial Grove Executive Director John Cunningham said.

On Thursday, they'll honor Bill Clinton at the grove for making it a national monument.

Wednesday night though, the honoree was the first openly gay U.S. ambassador.

"How can we collectively and individually move forward so that World Aids Day doesn't become a permanent tradition?" James Hormel said.

The dream is by next year to create a virtual grove online where people around the world can take refuge.


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