Sad march of boots

On Sat. Oct. 22, an exhibit by the American Friends Service Committee, intended to graphically represent the growing toll of the war in Iraq, returned to Union Square. On Sept. 1, 2004, the “Eyes Wide Open” exhibit laid out 978 pairs of shoes and boots; each pair intended to represent a soldier who died in the war.

As of last Saturday, the toll had grown to 1,994. Organizers had planned to lay out that many pairs of footwear for the weekend. However, due to the inclement weather, one pair of boots representing soldiers and one pair of sandals representing civilians were placed on paper as speakers read off the names of the dead. Clutches of yellow roses lined either side of the shoes.

The exhibit, subtitled “The Human Cost of War,” is intended to raise awareness of both the human and financial toll the war is taking on the country. Breaking down the numbers, a statement pointed out that, so far, almost $205 billion has been earmarked for the war. New York State has contributed over $17 billion; New York City $6.4 billion. The overall war cost is “enough to insure all 8.5 million American children who are currently without healthcare for 14 years. It’s enough to hire 3 million more public school teachers, or give 9 million students four-year scholarships at public universities,” the group’s statement noted.

In photo at left, Lionelle Hamanaka of Military Families Speak Out read the names of the dead. By Tuesday, the toll of U.S. war dead had hit 2,000.