A 19,000-square-foot canvas that has been making its way around the country picking up messages of support for the victims and survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing will make its final stop Sunday at Fenway Park. Amid that sea of more than 70,000 signatures are those of House and Senate lawmakers, who added their names last month as part of a Capitol visit organized by Speaker Boehner.
It all started earlier this year, when Boehner met Kari Wagner, one of a group of women from Naples, FL who started the project not long after the bombing. When Wagner raised the possibility of having members of Congress sign the canvas, Boehner immediately offered to spearhead that effort.
“I knew right away we had to be a part of this,” Speaker Boehner said. “How many times, at these moments, do we say ‘we send our thoughts and prayers,’ and here is a chance to actually do that. It was a great idea for a great city. The way the people of Boston fought back without a moment’s hesitation and continued to be there for each other – clearly, evil never stood a chance at that finish line.”
Boehner wanted to make sure this would be a bipartisan and bicameral effort. He directed his team to see that the canvas would be made available both in his office and the office of Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. We also reached out to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who took the lead on collecting signatures on his side of the Capitol. The signing took place on Wednesday, March 12.
At some point that morning, Boehner stopped by to see how the signing was progressing, and took Kari and Daryl Sissman, another leader of the project, on an impromptu tour of his office. He thanked them for all they had done. And rightly so: the amount of signatures they’ve collected is nearly double the capacity of Fenway Park.
Kari Wagner recently reflected on the experience: “That the leaders of our country would participate in this effort is not only a display of how we were all affected by this tragedy, but also an incredible symbol of our unity and strength. Furthermore, this project underscores and demonstrates our ability to overcome our differences in times of great need. I’m grateful for the leadership and support given by the Speaker and his team during this important project.”
“We’re blessed to live in a country where people have an idea like this to touch men and women they’ve never met,” Boehner added. “We’ll never forget those we lost, those who live on, and the lesson we’ve learned: there is strong in all of us.”