SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - Observances took place across the globe Friday in honor of World AIDS Day, one of those ceremonies took place at the AIDS Memorial Grove in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park where former President Bill Clinton served as keynote speaker.
"All you need is a little compassion. Everyone deserves an equal chance at life. Everyone deserves to be cared for when they're ill," Clinton said.
In 1996, President Clinton signed legislation by Rep. Nancy Pelosi designating the San Francisco site as the only national AIDS memorial.
"This is the first time a former president has come. We stand on the same footing as Iwo Jima, national monument, as 9/11," said Mike Shriver, chair of the National AIDS Memorial Grove.
It's a tradition for Stephen Abbot to come view this stone every year to remember his dear friend Burt Blum. Blum's name is etched in the circle of friends, part of the National AIDS Memorial.
"We were founders of Stop AIDS Project, love for fellow man. We did a poster and he said he wanted to live to be a dirty old man, full leather on his motorcycle," Abbot said.
Many visitors have passed through the grove in 25 years, but for the first time, a former U.S. president came to visit.
25 years later, visitors say they've watched friends and loved ones die from AIDS, but they've also seen tremendous strides in medicine, support and education.
"We've come far in 25 years to stand here with courage, dignity, self respect.," said Patrick B. Smith who is living with AIDS.