Wednesday, January 31, 2007


In 1996 I took a Civil War Battlefield Tour with a friend of mine who teaches Civil War history in Vermont. It was also an opportunity to visit three of his daughters who live in Virginia. I flew into Washington DC where he picked me up in his old dilapidated pickup truck, which was to be our transportation for the week. Good old Bob was very familiar with Washington as he had been a high-ranking official in the Labor Department during the Carter Administration.

One of the first spots we headed to was the Smithsonian museum complex and we were surprised to find the entire Mall covered with quilts. All the quilts were hand-made and commemorated an individual who had died of AIDS. We spent quite of bit of time there, walking around, viewing the craftwork, reading the names. It was a tremendously moving experience.

Today's New York Times (from which this photo was taken) reports that there is now a controversy going on between the founder of the project and current officials of the organization that manages the quilts. They are stored in Atlanta, segments of them travel around and are on display every year. Folks in San Franscisco are claiming some ownership of both the concept and the quilts.

Americans can argue about anything! One of the people involved in the current flap made some good comments in my opinion. He said that in 1996 our focus regarding AIDS was on how many people were dying. With medical advances being made, he said our current focus should be on AIDS victims who are living.


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