Eyes Wide Open: The Human Cost Of War In Iraq


ST. PAUL – Eyes Wide Open, the American Friends Service Committee’s (AFSC) widely acclaimed exhibition on the human cost of the Iraq war and commemoration of all the lives lost, will be on display September 29-October 1 at the College of St. Catherine, 2004 Randolph Ave., in St. Paul to increase awareness of the cost of war, to provide a public opportunity for mourning the losses, and to create a climate that encourages discussion about the war and promotes action for peace.

When this exhibit was unveiled in January 2004, there were 504 pairs of boots symbolizing the lost lives of U.S. soldiers in Iraq. With each passing week, more pairs of boots are added to the exhibit to represent the newly fallen. The exhibit’s field of shoes includes a wall of remembrance to memorialize the Iraqis killed in the conflict and a multimedia display exploring the history, cost and consequences of the war.

Eyes Wide Open press conference, Washington, D.C., May 25, 2004.
700 pairs of combat boots.
Photo by Terry Foss

As of September 25, more than 1,870 Americans – and a minimal estimate of 23,500 Iraqi civilians – have been killed during the 30 months of war, and at least 14,000 American soldiers have been wounded. The estimated cost of the Iraq War was $190 billion.

"As the exhibit makes its appearances across the country, families and friends come to grieve for lost loved ones, and strangers honor those who gave their lives to a cause far from home," writes Mary Ellen McNish, general secretary of AFSC, on its website at www.afsc.org/eyes.

"At each stop, person after person leaves notes of commemoration, photographs of lost soldiers, identification tags, flowers, and American flags to accompany the boots on their journey. Although a majority of Americans now believe this war is a tragic misadventure, the human cost of the Iraq War grows every day. How many more boots will be standing at silent attention before this war ends, before Iraqis and American soldiers are out of harm’s way? This traveling exhibit is a memorial to those who have fallen and a witness to the belief that no war can justify its human cost."

The sponsoring organization, American Friends Service Committee, is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace and humanitarian service. Its work is based on the belief in the worth of every person and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice. The organization’s mission and achievements won worldwide recognition in 1947 when it accepted the Nobel Peace Prize with the British Friends Service Council on behalf of all Quakers.

Donations are being sought to bring Eyes Wide Open to Minnesota. Expenses include costs to transport the installation here, resources for publicity, supplies for volunteers, and support for special events during the installation. Make checks payable to Friends for a Non-Violent World and write "EWO" in the memo line. Contributions should be mailed to Jeannette Raymond, 3724 12th Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55407. In addition, 75 volunteers will be needed each day of the event to staff the installation. If you, your family, congregation, union or other groups are interested, call or e-mail Anne Benson at (651) 647-0580 or [email protected]. For further information about sponsorship opportunities, volunteer needs or the event in general, call (651) 699-6995, press 2, and leave a message. Your call will be returned as soon as possible.

Seeking Peace in the Twin Cities

For the past several years, the International Day of Peace has been celebrated annually on September 21 as a call for a world-wide cessation of armed conflict, supported by a resolution from the United Nations Security Council. Cities and towns around the globe have marked that day with a variety of events including concerts, film festivals, anti-war rallies, vigils, prayer services, citizen forums and activities for families and children.

The Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers (MAP), an association representing more than 60 local peace and justice organizations is taking that concept a big step further. MAP has expanded the one-day celebration into a month long festival featuring more than 20 events.

During Twin Cities Peace Month (September 1 to October 2), MAP member organizations and other participating entities are providing a wide variety of public activities and events that celebrate the benefits of peace and educate about the monumental costs of war.

Among the featured events at the Twin Cities Peace Festival will be a speech by noted author and nuclear power expert Jonathon Schell at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, a peace concert featuring several well-known Minnesota musicians, a United Nations Association town hall meeting, and the dramatic traveling Eyes Wide Open exhibit that displays the boots and shoes of Iraq war casualties. There also will be at least two showings of the film Peace One Day that highlights Australian Jeremy Gilley’s one-man crusade to create the International Day of Peace. All events are open to the public. There will be an admission charge for the Schell lecture and peace concert. Other events are free.

Major public events include:
Sept. 11 – Work a Day for Peace, Noon-2 p.m., Central Park in Roseville, Lions Shelter and Foundation Shelter, 2545-2495 N. Victoria St., featuring clowns, face painting, playground, and games. Bring your baseball mitt, badminton rackets, volleyball shoes, and soccer ball and join the fun. Free for Work a Day Contributors who donate one day’s wages, from $5 to $500, for peace. Sponsored by Nonviolent Peaceforce of Minneapolis, (612) 871-0005.

Sept. 16-22 – Winter Soldier, a documentary of the Winter Soldier investigation from 1970-72 when members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War testified to U.S. war atrocities, Bell Museum, University of Minnesota, 10 Church St. SE at 17th and University Ave. SE, Minneapolis. (612) 331-3134 for showtimes.

Sept. 17 – Lecture "Will Peace Win – The Will of the People and the End of the War," by Jonathan Schell, author of The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence and the Will of the People and peace and disarmament correspondent for The Nation, about a viable alternative to war, 8 p.m., Fitzgerald Theater, Exchange Street and Wabasha, St. Paul. $15, $25 and $50 at (651) 917-0383 or www.ticketmaster.com. Sponsored by Friends for a Non-Violent World, The Institute for Global Studies at the University of Minnesota and Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers.

Sept. 18 – Headwaters Foundation for Justice’s 10th annual Walk for Justice, 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Boom Island Park, a community fundraising event for progressive grassroots organizations in Minnesota working for social justice and community building. Walk, contribute or just support the event. Visit www.walkforjustice.org to participate.

For more information on Peace Month, see Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers at www.mapm.org or contact MAP program committee members Burt Berlowe at (612) 722-1504 or Madeline Simon at (952) 854-2976. Visit UN International Day of Peace and the United Nations

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Tim Miejan
Tim Miejan is a writer who served as former editor and publisher of The Edge for twenty-five years. Contact him at [email protected].


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