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Remembrance for those lost

Students and Faculty participate in a remembrance service and vigil for World AIDS Day.

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Remembrance for those lost

Back row (L to R)

Back row (L to R)" Chuck Peterson, Rev. Nancy Victorin-Vangerud, Connor Suddick, Joe Ede Middle Row Rabbi Esther Adler, Tesha Johnson, Ashley Hoefker Front Row Rev. Mariah Furness Tollgaard, Dr. Mark Berkson, Emilie Laik, t. aaron hans, Greg Renstrom, Doug Melroe

Bree Carey

Back row (L to R)" Chuck Peterson, Rev. Nancy Victorin-Vangerud, Connor Suddick, Joe Ede Middle Row Rabbi Esther Adler, Tesha Johnson, Ashley Hoefker Front Row Rev. Mariah Furness Tollgaard, Dr. Mark Berkson, Emilie Laik, t. aaron hans, Greg Renstrom, Doug Melroe

Bree Carey

Bree Carey

Back row (L to R)" Chuck Peterson, Rev. Nancy Victorin-Vangerud, Connor Suddick, Joe Ede Middle Row Rabbi Esther Adler, Tesha Johnson, Ashley Hoefker Front Row Rev. Mariah Furness Tollgaard, Dr. Mark Berkson, Emilie Laik, t. aaron hans, Greg Renstrom, Doug Melroe

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The glow of the lights on Old Main shone down over Hamline campus on Thursday night, Nov. 30, lighting the faces of the small crowd that stood in the brisk air by the Bishop. The group closes in and they begin to light the candles that they hold. When everyone holds a flame, they form a circle and one individual begins to speak.

The celebration for World AIDS Day, is important to have on campus, shares Junior Connor Suddick, student intern for Sexualities and Gender Diversity Initiatives on campus.

“This event is important because many of us are desensitized to the impact and devastation that HIV and AIDS had. I think that people our age don’t always appreciate the history and context, or have the opportunity to engage with people who are currently living with what we are studying about,” Suddick  said. “This is a really direct avenue to studying intersectional, intergenerational and interfaith communities talking about one common issue.”

“Let these flames represent those we have lost and those whose flames are still burning,” Junior Emilie Laik , student intern for Sexualities and Gender Diversity Initiatives, welcomes the students, faculty, and community members to a vigil for World AIDS Day, said.

 

Laik then lead the group in a moment of silence and then on a walk to the church. As they walk, a candle blows out in the wind, only to be quickly reignited by that of a friend.

 

At the Hamline Methodist Church the candles are put away as the group enters to the sounds of Rabbi Esther Adler playing the flute. Everyone dons a red ribbon and finds a seat facing the many candles lit in the front of the cathedral.

 

The service begins slowly but builds intensity quickly with readings from the journal of Brian Coyle, an openly gay and HIV positive Minn.politician who passed away in 1991. Dr. Mark Berkson and Rev. Nancy Victorin-Vangerud take turns reading entries. They are followed by a speaker from the Minnesota AIDS Project and one from Clare Housing, and then three people who shared their personal story of fighting a battle against AIDS.

 

At the end of the service there is not a dry eye in the room.

 

Freshman Andrew P. Weston shares xyr opinion on this event. “I identify as trans and queer and one major part about trans and queer people is the history that we’ve had.There is an entire generation of trans and queer people who have died because of AIDS so we don’t get to hear their stories and don’t get to remember the lives of our elders and the deaths they had because of this virus and the lack of response to it by government and health organizations.”

Weston said “I celebrate World AIDS day because I want to celebrate the lives of the people who came before me and try to keep their memory going.”

 

“It’s really important to make sure that we continue to acknowledge and mark world AIDS day each year in some way whether it be in a remembrance like today or an educational event like we have done in the last couple of years,” t. aaron hans,  in charge of Sexualities and Gender Diversity Initiatives, organizer of the remembrance said.“[We need to] make sure we continue to talk about and continue to reduce stigma and increase people’s knowledge and awareness both of the history as well as the lives impacted by HIV and AIDS today.”

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Remembrance for those lost