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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Soldiers’ boots serve as memorial

    More than 450 boots representing Arizona and National Guard casualties in the Iraq War will be displayed on the UA Mall today and tomorrow in an effort to illustrate the individual price of war.

    The memorial, called Eyes Wide Open, is sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee and the Presbyterian Campus Ministry, along with other organizations. This display is part of a larger Eyes Wide Open memorial that tours the country.

    The event is not intended to be a political statement about the Iraq War but rather a memorial for those who have died and is a way of illustrating the human cost of war, said Caroline Isaacs, program director for the AFCS.

    “”It’s intended really as a memorial for people to really process the situation,”” Isaacs said. “”It’s not intended as some kind of anti-war protest or political statement, it’s to let people to really have a sense of the devastation that war brings.””

    The boots represent all National Guard and Arizona casualties. Some boots will represent a small fraction of Iraqi civilian casualties of the war.

    While in most cases the boots were funded by an anonymous donor and purchased from a military surplus store, a few pairs belonged to the actual soldiers they represent.

    “”In very few cases they are the actual boots, when families choose to donate the boots,”” Isaacs said.

    Each boot will be tagged with information about the particular soldier and their names will be read aloud in a ceremony.

    “”We really wanted to just emphasize the point that the human story isn’t really being told in this war,”” said Ben Larson-Wolbrink, campus minister for the Presbyterian Campus Ministry. “”Our primary point is to help the human cost of this war be more apparent to students at the UA.””

    At the end of the event, an inter-faith, candle-lit ceremony will feature speakers from several campus organizations.

    The vice president of the Muslim Students Association will be reading a verse from the Quran that speaks of the sanctity of life and justice.

    “”I do believe with the war it just hasn’t hit home for a lot of the Americans,”” said Mohammed Abdelwahab, president of the Muslim Students’ Association.

    “”When people see the actual boots (it) will hit home for a lot of people.””

    Jessica Pettitt, Coordinator for the Social Justice Leadership Center at the UA, will also be speaking at the vigil.

    “”It raises awareness that there are people their age in military service,”” Pettitt said. “”Your average Wildcat doesn’t think about that.””

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