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The AIDS Memorial Quilt

The AIDS Quilt

Photo: National Institutes of Health

The AIDS Memorial Quilt has a special relationship with the National Mall. The San Francisco-based Quilt has been displayed in its entirety only five times -- in 1987, 1988, 1989, 1992 and 1996, each time on the Mall.

The first display was on October 11, 1987, during the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. The Quilt covered an area larger than a football field, included 1,920 panels, and drew half a million visitors. It returned to the Mall in October 1988. 8,000 panels were arrayed on the Ellipse, part of the great cross-axis of the National Mall in front of the White House.

Participants devoted to the cause of educating about AIDS read aloud the names of those represented by the quilt panels, beginning of a tradition of honoring fallen AIDS victims.

The last display of the entire AIDS Memorial Quilt was in October of 1996. The quilt covered the entire eastern expanse of the National Mall, from the Capitol to the grounds of the Washington Monument.

The quilt now encompasses some 44,000 panels, and if ever displayed in its entirety again would stretch from the Capitol, past the Washington Monument, to the Lincoln Memorial.

For further study ...

  • "A Fusion of Love, Logistics; Behind the AIDS Quilt Display Is a Complex Action Plan," The Washington Post, October 8, 1996
  • "15 Acres of Anguish and Healing; Bush Administration Rebuked as AIDS Quilt Is Unfolded," The Washington Post, October 11, 1992
  • "Fabric of Remembrance; Like the Vietnam Memorial, the AIDS Quilt Is Monumental Art," The Washington Post, October 4, 1992

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Great Moments on the Mall

• Marian Anderson, 1939
• The March On Washington
• Vietnam Veterans Against the War
• AIDS Quilt
• Million Man March
• Million Mom March

Personal Great Moments
• Charles I. Cassell
• George Idelson
• Virginia Mondale
• Laura Richards

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