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FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN  / Lincolnís Tears / Editorial List

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In honor of this weekís 19th International AIDS Conference held in Washington, D.C., along with the inspirational AIDS quilt presentations across the mall, please allow me to repeat a column I wrote (also in the Fearless Caregiver book) after my trip to the first presentation of the AIDS quilt in Washington D.C. in 1996.

Lincolnís Tears

We came from everywhere. From across the nation, across the continent, around the world. It seemed like we were millions. We came not only to mourn the too early deaths of friends and colleagues and loved ones. We came, all of us, to celebrate life. To celebrate the lives that have fallen to AIDS and to those who survive. We came to celebrate the lives of those fighting just to stay alive, and of those who fight for every life.

And we came to honor love. We came to honor the love embodied in The Quilt, which puts our hearts and thoughts and pain and joy on display. The Quilt puts all of humanity touched by AIDS on display. The Quilt may never be seen this way again. It has grown too large to be contained in one place. Its size, the size of its meaning, the enormity of its impact on the hearts and minds of those in its presence has become too large, too vast to be contained in one place. Not even the grandeur of our nationís capital will be able to contain The Quilt in its entirety. The magnitude of it was accentuated by the continuous stream of celebrities and sports figures, politicians, and ordinary citizens, the people reciting an endless list of those who died from AIDS. They read the names every day, morning ítil night. And still, they ran out of time before they ran out of names.

We held our candles high: thousands of candles and hearts, burning brightly in the dark of night, as we marched from The Quilt, which covered the Mall. We marched behind grand marshal Elizabeth Taylor, who led us to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Surrounding the Reflecting Pool, we stood, an endless sea of lights. Shining lights, twinkling lights, like a sea of distant stars come to earth to share the love and try to understand.

We stood side by side, and we listened, in the shadow of the Memorial chiseled with words that brought our nation together once before. We listened to speakers, famous and unknown. People who spoke of living with AIDS. One by one, they walked out to the podium set high on the steps of the monument, each starting with the phrase, ďI am the face of AIDS.Ē White, black, brown, yellow, and red, young and old, male and female, they spoke.

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