Mayor Daniel Rivera announces the completion of the Empty Chair Memorial in the Campagnone Common Park in remembrance of the 144 souls that have been lost to COVID-19. The memorial is compiled of 144 empty chairs for each of the Lawrence residents lined up in rows in the park facing City Hall.
Mayor Daniel Rivera was inspired by the recent memorial installation in Washington D.C. by COVID Survivors for Change, a network that is aimed at helping those affected by the virus locate support groups and other resources. The memorial in Washington had a total of 20,000 empty chairs each representing 10 people in the United States that have died of COVID-19 to represent all 200,000 lives that were lost.
“This memorial is a symbol of not just the lives this virus has taken but also of the fight we are actively in against it,” says Mayor Daniel Rivera. “This pandemic has completely turned our lives around, not since the Civil War have we seen this level of crisis across our nation. At this point in time 1 in 20 people in Lawrence have contracted COVID-19, that’s 5,284 people. This virus has made home the only place we can truly be safe, brought our economy to a complete halt, and has left our children learning in ways we’ve never thought of before. We must continue to give this virus the respect it deserves, it can and will continue to kill, we have lost 144 members of our community and only we as a community can stop it from taking more. We have to wear our masks, stay home when we’re sick, avoid large gatherings, quarantine when required, and get tested when we aren’t sure. It is time for us to make it a personal responsibility to stop the spread because until we do we will keep adding chairs.”
Nighttime lighting and city police surveillance cameras have been installed around the memorial to promote safety and assure that the memorial stays intact while it is in place. To honor and respect the memory of those lost to COVID-19, the City asks that observers not sit in the chairs and remain outside of the cordoned-off area.
Photos of the memorial can be found at https://www.cityoflawrence.com/881