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Bridgewater State to rename institute for Martin Richard

Martin RichardBill Richard via AP

Bill Richard doesn't want people to remember the tragedy that took his 8-year-old son's life. He wants people to remember his son's message of peace — and work for a better future.

Richard spoke Wednesday as Bridgewater State University announced it would dedicate an institute and a statue to his son, the youngest victim of the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

"We have no wish for this memorial to serve as an echo of the tragedy that struck our family along with so many others on that horrific, evil day," Richard said at a news conference. "Rather, we hope it is a reminder to all that, unlike the past, the story of the future is not yet written."


Richard said the renaming of the Martin Richard Institute for Social Justice and the installation of the statue would be living memorials to his son.

The message of peace became synonymous with Martin after a photo of him holding a sign he had made that read, "No More Hurting People . . . Peace," became an iconic image following the terror attack.

Bill and Denise Richard, Martin's mother, met at Bridgewater and graduated in 1993. With his wife by his side, he said Wednesday it felt right the statue sit on the campus where, in a way, his family began.

The statue, which will sit in University Park, a pedestrian greenway connecting Bridgewater's east and west campuses, will likely be completed by the end of August, in time for the fall semester, according to Bridgewater State spokeswoman Eva Gaffney.

"Thousands of students walk through there each day," Gaffney said. "Martin will very much have a presence on campus."

It will be a bronze, life-size sculpture, according to artist Victoria Guerina.

Guerina said she remembered when she first saw the photo of Martin that sped around the world in the wake of the bombing. "It was such an ironic, tragic feeling," she said. "So impactful."


From that moment, she said, she felt inspired to create an enduring piece of art so people could see and understand Martin's message forever. "It would be in their lives all the time and not be forgotten," Guerina said.

Richard said that even if one Bridgewater student walks by the statue and pauses and realizes that he or she can help someone in need or that the world can be better place through hope and perseverance, "then surely the meaning of our son's life lives on."

The institute has a similar goal, promoting fairness, peace, and service. For example, it aims to help at-risk youth. Richard said he looked forward to working with the university to strengthen the institute.

Aneri Pattani of the Globe staff contributed to this report.