Quilt Remains a Poignant Symbol on World AIDS Day
December 1, 2006
When it was last displayed in its entirety, in October 1996, the AIDS Memorial Quilt stretched along the National Mall from the Washington Monument to the US Capitol. That year, the quilt included 40,000 panels memorializing 70,000 people who had died from AIDS. Today, the quilt has 48,000 panels in memory of 91,000 people lost to the disease.
"There are now 40 million people living with AIDS" worldwide, said Julie Rhoad, executive director of the Atlanta-based Names Foundation, which maintains the quilt. "The power of the quilt is the ability to transform statistics to souls, that people can learn from and teach with it," she said.
The quilt is vast, both in its proportion and in its moving personal narratives of love and loss. Last month, the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities awarded the AIDS Memorial Quilt a matching $97,550 grant, one of 29 given by the public-private partnership Save America's Treasures to preserve significant objects of US history.
On this World AIDS Day, segments of the quilt are being displayed at more than 460 US sites. For more information about the quilt and display sites, visit www.aidsquilt.org.
12.01.2006; Kate Patterson