Honoring the fallen

Eyes Wide Open
An exhibit of combat boots will be in Ocean Park, Oak Bluffs, from August 21 through August 23. The traveling exhibit is sponsored by the Martha's Vineyard Peace Council and the Martha's Vineyard Quaker Meeting. Photos courtesy of the American Friends Service Committee

By Sarah Nevin - August 16, 2007

Ocean Park will be home to an exhibit of 100-plus pairs of military boots, representing the fallen New England service men and women from the Iraq war, plus dozens of Iraqi civilian shoes representing the tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians who have been killed in the conflict. The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a Quaker organization, the Martha's Vineyard Peace Council, and the Martha's Vineyard Quaker Meeting will be bringing this exhibit titled "Eyes Wide Open: The Human Cost of War" to honor fallen United States military personnel and Iraqi civilians from August 21 through August 23.

This traveling exhibition has been shown in over 100 American cities by the AFSC, an international social justice organization. It first opened in Chicago's Federal Plaza with just over 500 pairs of boots in January 2004. The national exhibit was displayed on Memorial Day weekend 2007 with over 3,400 pairs of boots. This was the last time the exhibition represented the entire death toll in one location. Since then the exhibition has been divided into state displays and travels throughout the nation to smaller cities and towns.


The Martha's Vineyard Peace Council, with the permission of the Oak Bluffs Selectmen, will be locating the exhibit at the north end of the park near the bus stop, not far from the Confederate soldier statute, erected after the Civil War, to memorialize the large numbers of southern soldiers who died in that war. There will also be a series of banners accompanying the exhibit of the 100-plus pairs of soldiers' boots, which will detail the financial costs of the Iraq war and how that money could have been better used here at home. The exhibit will be up all day from 9 am to dusk, providing an opportunity to remember those lost and to offer hope for those still in military service and to create resolve to end the Iraq war.

Memorial Exhibit, August 21-23, 9 am to sunset, Ocean Park, Oak Bluffs. Free admission.

Sarah Nevin is a member of the Martha's Vineyard Peace Council.