Monday, December 1, 2008

World AIDS Day

I was in 4th grade when I first learned about AIDS. It was a topic that hit too close to home for me. I didn't have a family member who had the virus, but I had a classmate who did.

This classmate was in the 3th grade, and he had hemophilia. He contracted AIDS through a blood transfusion. There was a huge controversy in our town--so huge that it made the state news--because his parents wanted him to go to school. The AIDS epidemic was fairly new at the time, and not many people knew about it. Parents withdrew their kids from school because they were afraid that their kids would contract the virus.

My classmate was able to go to school.

He died when he was in the 4th grade.

We had a memorial service for him--the whole school--when I was in 5th grade.

I still think of my classmate every now and then, and how his life was cut short, and how he had to fight to go to school.

When Ryan White fought to go back to public school, I knew exactly what he was going through, because it happened in my town.

We dedicated the school courtyard to him. The town dedicated the little league fields to him.

His high school classmates dedicated their yearbook to him, the year he would have graduated.

His memory will never be forgotten.

It still saddens me to this day.

No comments: