Participants walk through the Eyes Wide Open display, which was at Butler University in April, 2012.
Perry Township church to host Indiana war memorial
By Nicole Davis
This weekend, 203 pairs of empty combat boots tagged with the names of fallen soldiers from Indiana will line the outside of Faith United Church of Christ (FUCC). The American Friends Service Committee, partnering with Veterans for Peace, will bring their traveling exhibition, Eyes Wide Open: The Cost of War to Indiana, to the Perry Township church at 4040 E. Thompson Rd. on Nov. 10 9 a.m.-sundown and Nov. 11 sunup-4 p.m.
“It’s a very meaningful way for the community to come together and simultaneously honor those men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country,” said FUCC Pastor Kurt Walker. “I think it’s a memorial that gives us an opportunity to pause and reflect on what the real cost of war is – not just those in uniform but also men, women and children who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
The memorial, which is displayed at least twice a year usually at college campuses or public parks, offers a visual display of the Iraqi and Afghan civilian casualties as well as fallen servicemen and women. It began as a national memorial until the casualty count grew too large to continue moving the empty shoes. The national exhibit was last displayed on Memorial Day weekend 2007 with over 3,400 pairs of boots. The Indiana exhibit was most recently displayed on the IUPUI campus.
“It’s an honor to do this on veteran’s day and partner with the Faith congregation,” said Erin Polley, organizer. “We like to show this exhibit on Veteran’s Day as much as possible. This is one of the first times we have partnered with a church. Kurt is such an open-minded minister who incorporates a peace testimony into his church. I think he shares with his congregation weekly what the current casualty counts are, and that’s pretty unique – that there is still a minister that recognizes this on a weekly basis.”
A dedication ceremony on Saturday from 11 a.m. -1 p.m. will feature a reading of the names of Indiana soldiers and civilian casualties.
Part of the memorial includes personal items to the fallen soldiers which they owned prior to their military service. Walker said that personal connection is why he requested that the display be brought to his church. The memorial is meant to be walked through, and if anyone knows of someone that has been killed from Indiana, they can go right to those boots.
“There is an attempt here to draw a connection between the humanity, the essence of who these persons were prior to their military appointments,” Walker said. “They had mothers, fathers, were human beings just like us and they gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country. It is something to be honored and (remembered).”
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