How To Make An American Quilt

My apologies to those who might think this is about the new movie starring Wynona Ryder and others. I admit it. I did it deliberately to draw you in.

Two weeks ago, outside the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, I was fortunate to view once again the AIDS Memorial Quilt. I first saw it in April, 1993 when I attended the March On Washington. It was then and now a powerful experience.

The Quilt is massive. I was told in Pasadena that it is 35,000 panels large. And, it grows at the rate of 5,000 panels a year. If you get the opportunity to see each panel, it can represent one or more persons who have died of AIDS and its complications. In my two experiences with the Quilt, I’ve become overwhelmed by its awesome size and by what that size represents. That’s thousands upon thousands of Americans who have died of this painful scourge. Thousands and thousands of Americans who have been seemingly ignored by their own government.

The Quilt holds a special place in my heart. My sister, a practicing heterosexual, died of AIDS in 1991. She was 41. In fact, I didn’t realize until this moment that in terms of years, I have outlived my sister. Marcia was a beautiful woman who had five children. Two of those children, my youngest nephews, have NO parents. Their father had also contracted AIDS and died years before. Marcia was much on my mind when I first saw the Quilt in Washington, D.C. that spring day. I looked at the panels, thought of my sister, and looked at those alabaster buildings which seem to contain an uncaring, unfeeling bureaucracy uninterested in the plight of millions of Americans.

Some of my friends from The Fireplace and I are getting together next October in Washington D.C. We want very much to put faces and human contact on the correspondence of people we’ve only met on cyberspace and on the telephone. We also want to view the entire AIDS Memorial Quilt on the Mall. It will be a massive effort, but I — for one — feel that it will be necessary to demonstrate to the American government and the people it represents the awesome responsibility it faces every day until this plague is wiped out. I can’t think of a better time, one month before the National elections, of making this pilgrimage.

I wish you will join us there.

Don’t settle for misinformation. I hope you’ll check out some of the resources below the line for information about AIDS and HIV. Thanks!

Ciao for now!
Mike

Resources

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