- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 6, 2005

Like other middle schoolers, Anthony Del Negro spent his summer at Starbucks, in restaurants and on a visit to Times Square. But unlike his contemporaries, Anthony wasn’t just hanging out. He was on a mission.

Anthony’s goal was to collect 1,000 signatures for a petition to award Constantino Brumidi, the artist whose work decorates large sections of the U.S. Capitol, with a Congressional Gold Medal of Honor.

The eighth-grader from Belleville, N.J., first learned about Brumidi, who died in 1880, while touring the Capitol with his mother. They were invited to attend a commemoration of the artist’s birth, and Anthony’s curiosity was piqued.

“He was very impressed when he saw the dome and the Capitol and the walls,” said Anthony’s mother, Mary Del Negro.

Anthony particularly was awed by the Brumidi mural on the dome above the Capitol Rotunda. “‘The Apotheosis of Washington’ is gorgeous,” he said. “[Brumidi] is of my origin. He was an immigrant from Italy. I think it’s fantastic that America let him paint in the new Capitol — of all the painters all over the world.”

Intrigued, Anthony began researching Brumidi, who immigrated to the U.S. in 1852, becoming a citizen three years later.

After digging into books and articles about the painter, Anthony made a decision.

“I have to get this artist the Congressional Gold Medal,” he said. “People walk into the Capitol every day and look at the beautiful Rotunda dome, and none of them even know the artist that [painted] it.”

He started soliciting signatures for his petition. He sent e-mails to friends and collected signatures at church. He put Brumidi petitions at Greek and Italian restaurants and left pens so patrons could sign them. He made a trip to New York City, where he canvassed Times Square and Planet Hollywood. A day at Montclair State University yielded 250 signatures.

The petition drive recently topped 950 signatures.

“I only have 50 signatures to go,” Anthony said.

After the final signatures come in, the next step is persuading the Senate to approve the medal.

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