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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    They died with their boots on

    Jim Strader, an Episcopalian minister at the Campus Christian Center, reads the name and age of a fallen soldier tagged on a pair of boots Friday on the UA Mall. The Chicago-based American Friends Service Committee displayed the exhibit Eyes Wide Open, a collection of combat boots and shoes that represent lives lost in Iraq, both military and civilian.
    Jim Strader, an Episcopalian minister at the Campus Christian Center, reads the name and age of a fallen soldier tagged on a pair of boots Friday on the UA Mall. The Chicago-based American Friends Service Committee displayed the exhibit ‘Eyes Wide Open,’ a collection of combat boots and shoes that represent lives lost in Iraq, both military and civilian.

    Hundreds of weathered combat boots lined the east side of the UA Mall this weekend, attracting passers-by and sparking renewed debate about the war in Iraq.

    The traveling exhibit, “”Eyes Wide Open: The Human Cost of War,”” was organized by the American Friends Service Committee, the Presbyterian Campus Ministry and other organizations to show the reality of the lives that have been claimed by the war in Iraq, said Caroline Isaacs, program director for the Arizona chapter of the American Friends Service Committee.

    The exhibit included 458 boots, 381 of which represented National Guard deaths in Iraq and 77 for Arizona soldiers.

    A national boot display, started in Chicago, has boots representing every American soldier killed in Iraq. The exhibit on the Mall was one-eighth the size of the national exhibit.

    “”That’s over 3,000 now, which is twice as many as when we started,”” Isaacs said.

    The display also had shoes representing Iraqi civilian casualties, with tags for children as young as 8 months old.

    The display was not meant to be political, Isaacs said.

    But Saturday, petitioners, pro-war lobbyists and peace demonstrators gathered at the memorial despite the AFSC’s statement that the purpose was to “”mourn our collective losses.””

    A booth set up between Iraqi shoes and military boots had a petition that stated, “”Not one more death. Not one more

    dollar.””

    The petition was addressed to members of Congress, asking them to end the war by cutting funding, closing military bases in Iraq and bringing the troops home.

    But those who supported the war also voiced their opinions.

    “”If we pull our troops out, all these men and women would have died in vain,”” said John Yates, a U.S. Navy veteran.

    Yates said he agreed with Bush’s latest plan to send more than 21,000 new troops to Iraq.

    Representatives of Veterans for Peace donned blue “”Wage Peace”” bracelets and spoke about the atrocities of war.

    Despite the political undertones, others said they simply came to honor those who died in Iraq and see the cost of war.

    David Fife, a pastor with the Covenant Presbyterian Church in Bisbee, brought his family, including his 10-year-old daughter, Carly, and his 4-year-old daughter, Eliana.

    “”I wanted my kids to see this and to understand that people actually filled those boots,”” Fife said.

    “”Mainly, it’s just to pay respect.””

    Others came to remember what America endured in the past.

    “”People who are against this have never been to war,”” said Jake Elkins, a Vietnam War veteran and geography professor at Pima Community College.

    Elkins, who served with his brother in Vietnam, said his brother died in the war.

    “”He’d be glad to be honored like this,”” Elkins said.

    LeeAnne Fergason, a teacher’s aide at Satori Charter School, said she came because she wanted to make the war more personal for her.

    “”It puts more of a reality to the war that is so far away, and I think we all need that,”” she said.

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