On Higgs Beach, at the base of the White Street Pier lies the Key West AIDS Memorial, the only city AIDS Memorial in the country. It is an introspective place, with black granite squares engraved with the names of loved ones connected with Key West who have lost their battle with AIDS. The Memorial was built with private funds but has since been given to the city and is now a City of Key West park.
The space was designed to hold 1500 names. When it was dedicated on World AIDS Day 1997, there were 730 names written into the reflective black granite pieces. Today, sadly, there are over 1000. Each World AIDS Day (Dec. 1) more names are added in a solemn ceremony.
It is common to see flowers and other remembrances on the squares, placed by those left behind when their loved ones moved on. If you sit on one of the nearby benches and listen in the quiet times, you can hear the pain of loss. It spreads out from the engraved names, floating on the sea breeze, tingeing the entire area with a pang of regret and sorrow.
Whether you have or haven’t known someone suffering from HIV or AIDS, this memorial will give you pause.
If you have known someone who has lost their battle and is connected with Key West, here is a form you can fill out to get their names added to the list.
If someone you know is already there, here is a link to help you locate their name.