Fifty-eight pairs of black combat boots representing fallen Colorado servicemen were solemnly displayed outside the Boulder County Courthouse Monday as a demonstration against the ongoing war in Iraq.
"We're calling attention to the cost of war overall, and certainly the human cost," said Rich Andrews of the pacifist organization Veterans for Peace. Andrews is a veteran of the Vietnam War.
The boots are part of an exhibit titled "Eyes Wide Open: The Cost of War to Colorado," which was first part of a larger display in Chicago's Federal Plaza in January 2004 by The American Friends Service Committee.
It began with slightly more than 500 pairs of boots and last year that number grew to more than 3,400. However, 2007 was the last time that all the boots were displayed together.
This year the demonstration was divided into state displays.
"It's partly a matter of expense," explained Andrews. "The display in its full size would now be more than four thousand pairs," which he said grew too costly to transport.
Rick Anderson, a former sailor in the U.S. Navy, looked over each pair of boots and expressed his anger about the war.
"It's sad. I'm just hoping that my wife's best friend isn't one of the people. We haven't heard from him in over two years and the maximum they'll send you over for is fifteen months," said Anderson.
Also displayed were pairs of civilian shoes, each of which is intended to represent 3,000 Iraqi civilian deaths. Some pairs had tags telling the story of specific casualties.
In spite of light rain Andrews said that there was no shortage of foot traffic on the Courthouse lawn. The demonstration started at 9:30 a.m. to capitalize on the crowds gathered for the Bolder Boulder. At 2:30 p.m., a memorial service was preformed and each deceased Colorado soldier's name was read aloud.
Aside from the human costs of the war, the demonstration is meant to draw attention to the massive financial commitment the conflict has become. The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is calling on Congress to end the war in Iraq by cutting its funding.
"The control Congress has is control of the budget," said Andrews, "and if they don't send money to the war, then they can bring it to an end."
According to the AFSC, the war is costing around $720,000,000 a day, which they say is enough to provide nearly 35,000 students with four-year scholarships and 6,500 families with homes. The price tag of the war overall, according to the group, is now more than a trillion dollars.