The most affecting memorials are often the simplest.

When “Eyes Wide Open: Beyond Fear – Towards Hope,” an exhibit created by the American Friends Service Committee of Chicago, first arrived in New York in late August 2004, it comprised almost 1,000 pair of military boots, each representing a U.S. soldier killed during the war in Iraq.

On its second tour through the area, the display includes almost twice as many. Each pair of boots bears a tag indicating the name, rank and home state of a soldier. The boots are arranged in tight rows, organized by state. The narrow pathways between the rows require visitors to move slowly among them. Boots representing soldiers from other countries who have been killed are also
included, as well as a memorial for soldiers who have committed suicide.

Completing the picture of the human cost of war is a collection of civilian shoes of all shapes and sizes; some have names attached to them, many do not. While there is still no official count of the number of Iraqi civilian casualties, a Johns Hopkins University study estimated that by September 2004 at least 100,000 Iraqis had died as a result of the war and occupation. Photographs of Iraqi civilians, taken just after the fall of Baghdad, accompany the shoes.

First displayed in Chicago in January 2004, the exhibit resumed touring this past summer. It will be on display in Military Park in Newark, NJ, Oct. 19-20, and in Union Square in Manhattan on Oct. 22 and 23, before moving on to Massachusetts and upstate New York.

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