I was so pleased and proud to join today with our two leaders from the Charles County Health Department, HIV/AIDS Program Coordinator Linda Fenlon and the new Health Officer Dr. Dianna Abney, to celebrate the opening ceremony for the AIDS Memorial Quilt visit to
North Point High School. I have been trying for many years to bring the quilt back to our county again after a long absence, and so I am very appreciative of their support and proactive efforts to do so. I also thank Steve Proctor for his sponsorship of the quilt without which this visit would not be possible.
This is only a portion of the 46,000 panels that make up the entire quilt length, which now spans approximately 30 football fields. This memorial represents the tragedy that the AIDS disease inflicts on its victims, their families and their friends. It also brings hope for a long sought cure.
Here at North Point, it will also serve as a reminder and learning tool for young people that this disease can attack anyone, and only through responsible life choices can we protect ourselves from it. The students will be receiving additional information about AIDS throughout the time that the display is in the building.
I’d like to acknowledge three courageous speakers from the morning ceremony. They are Alexander (left), Toni (center), and Janis (right). Each bravely gave witness through their own HIV/AIDS stories and from Janis Russello’s beautiful poem in order to educate us and the North Point student body on the reality of living with the disease.
This storied quilt will be on display for the public in the North Point High School gymnasium until May 2, 2013, and I urge everyone to come take a look at it. Among the stitches, you will find tributes to some famous names that you know, including tennis player Arthur Ashe, Washington Redskins’ Jerry Smith, Queen’s lead singer Freddie Mercury, and actors Tony Perkins, Robert Reed, and Rock Hudson. So please come see this moving tribute.