On April 2, 2013, YAL at the University of Richmond hosted a memorial to fallen Virginia soldiers. The exhibit, called Eyes Wide Open, included 66 boots representing the 66 Virginia soldiers who died in Afghanistan, along with shoes representing killed Afghan civilians. Through this emotional display, students were given a somber and respectful reminder of the human cost of war.
After doing some research, we discovered the Eyes Wide Open exhibit of the American Friends Service Committee, which has displayed soldiers’ boots at the U.S. Capitol and around the country. Initially, we wanted to host the Iraq War exhibit, but were shocked to hear that the staggering number of casualties meant that we would need multiple large trucks to transport the boots.
To promote our event, we made posters and flyers to distribute around campus. We also distributed flyers and YAL palm cards at our table at the event. On the morning of the event, we strained our backs hauling countless boxes of boots to the event site. We arranged them in the Forum, the busiest spot on campus.
The display also included shoes representing innocent Afghan civilians.