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AIDS victims remembered with sidewalk inscriptions in San Francisco

AIDS victims remembered with S.F. sidewalk inscriptions
AIDS victims remembered with S.F. sidewalk inscriptions 03:56

SAN FRANCISCO -- The sidewalks of San Francisco's Castro District became the site of a sprawling memorial on World AIDS Day.

"It's going into the archive, our collective history, taking the time and making sure that it's recorded," said contributor Mark Hogan.

AIDS Day Sidewalk Memorial
AIDS victims remembered with sidewalk inscriptions in San Francisco. KPIX

Hogan started early and he didn't just come with the names of lost friends. This year, he was determined to honor those who may have otherwise been overlooked.

"So out of the short list of personal names that we could remember from people who had passed from HIV, my husband found a list online from all the deaths and obituaries listed in the BAR," he explained.

BAR is the Bay Area Reporter newspape and Hogan decided to focus on just two years, 1989 and 1990.

"It was, as I member, we were beginning to see hope, " Hogan said of those years. "But it was -- the peak of people passing -- was that time."

So Hogan set out to honor all of them, starting at the top of the page.

"Twenty-seven pages," he said. "I'm not done with page one. I just know that I've been working on this since 9:30 this morning and I'm almost through with the As."

While Morgan's effort was unfolding, one name at a time, others were filling up the rest of the sidewalk with their own tributes. Some with personal notes to lost loves, family members and friends.

"So it's Miss Keila right here," Deanna said of her contributions. "And Miss Robert. They were very near and dear to my heart and this day brings back memories -- memories of them."

"That's the only time of the year that they reflect  and they think about that person," said Inscribe creator George Kelly. "Because it's been a while. You know, my partner died 20 years ago. So, what was his name? His name was Tom."

Kelly developed the idea for the Inscribe project. He says the names often spark memories and conversations about the lost, even with passing strangers.

"The man is in tears and I'm in tears," Kelly said of one interaction. "It's just a beautiful thing. And just reflect and remember. It did happen."

It is chalk on the sidewalk and a reminder that sometimes the simplest of gestures can carry the most weight. Any one of the messages can stop someone in their tracks.

"October 11, 1989," Morgan he said, finishing the list of names stretching up the sidewalk. "And there are all the As"

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