Wednesday, September 15, 2004

"Eyes Wide Open: The Human Cost of the Iraq War" - Monument Circle and the Wheeler Arts Community Building - Sept. 15, 2004 - 5 stars

Sept. 11-13, 2004. Organized by the American Friends Service Committee (, Eyes Wide Open was emotionallly and politically poignant. It was only by miraculous coincidence that this wound up being exhibited in Indianapolis on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York City. Scaling the north steps of the Monument, 1,007 pairs of black combat boots created a very graphic portrayal of the war in Iraq's military casualties. The appearance was eerily suggestive of the rows of small white Civil War solders' headstones at Crown Hill Cemetery, as if these boots were funerary monuments. "It makes the numbers real," said Richard K. Curtis, P51 "Mustang" fighter pilot in WWII, awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with oak leaf clusters and the Presidential Unit Citation. Every pair of boots was tagged with a laminated, white piece of paper that in black ink simply labeled the name, age and state of each killed American soldier - "Sgt. Eliu A. Miersandoval, 27, CA," one read. Some boots were adorned with American flags, pictures of those fallen soldiers represented and symbols of peace. Also gripping was a board listing some of the over 10,000 Iraqi civilian casualties - "Fathollah Hejazi, 71, 30 Nov., Samarra, tanks and gunfire." Innumerable civilians were listed as anonymous - children and elderly among them. It was a stirring form of tribute for the lives lost and the families that grieve. The installation was truly an instrument for mourning and a reminder of what civility and humanity are. Shame on Indianapolis' TV and print media for the lazy coverage of this moving display. For local information email - Mary Lee Pappas

*Visit to read writer Becky Oberg's news coverage, "Eyes Wide Open, Ugliness ensues as groups clash over war"

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