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Opening Eyes to Virginia's War Sacrifice

March 31, 2008

Williamsburg, VA - The boots of fallen soldiers will be on display in Williamsburg on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. "Code Pink," a student group at the College of William and Mary, is hosting "Eyes Wide Open," a traveling memorial meant to illustrate the human costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Organizers will set up 113 pairs of boots, each representing a Virginian who died in the ongoing wars, as well as civilian shoes representing Iraqi deaths.

Adria Scharf of the Richmond Peace Education Center says the boots serve as a poignant reminder of the sacrifices being made.

"It seems like, if you don't know someone in the military who's served or you don't have a family member or friend over there, it's just all too easy for too many of us to almost forget that there's even a war going on, and the sacrifices that are being made on both sides."

She says military families frequently visit, and leave notes and mementos of fallen loved ones on the boots that represent particular individuals. Veterans frequently thank them, she adds, for spotlighting the cost of the war.

"We have students come up to us, who have served in Iraq and in Afghanistan, who have said, 'It's so wonderful that you are doing this, bringing attention to the sacrifices that are being made. I came back from Iraq and nobody really knows what I went through. Nobody really knows the death that I saw.'"

Scharf's organization cosponsors the exhibit with the American Friends Service Committee. "Eyes Wide Open" will be staged in the Sunken Garden at the College of William and Mary from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, April 1-2.

John Robinson/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - VA