Folks from the PebbleCreek Democratic Club set their alarm clocks very early to gather and join the estimated 15,000 silent walkers participating in National Gun Violence Awareness Day on June 2 at the Arizona State Capitol. While there, they also took the opportunity to register new voters in attendance.
The Desert Southwest Conference of the United Methodist Church and its partners, Arizona Faith Network, Moms Demand Action, Arizonans for Gun Safety and March for Our Lives sponsored the event. Shoes collected from gun violence victims, including Gabby Giffords, the former Arizona Congresswoman, graphically demonstrated the toll that gun violence takes on our communities. Clergy from various faiths and survivors spoke and bells rang commemorating those killed and wounded by gun violence.
Shoes are often used as a haunting, visual representation of those who walked in them and who suffered unjustly. In March, 7,000 pairs of shoes were displayed in the shadow of the Capitol dome to memorialize children killed due to gun violence since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in late 2012.
In Budapest, Hungary, the shoes on the Danube Bank is a memorial to the Holocaust victims who were shot along the banks of the Danube. There 60 pairs of rusted, period shoes cast out of iron of different sizes and styles reflect how none, including children, women, businessmen or sportsmen, were spared from the brutality. A museum in Mexico City is exhibiting the shoes of missing citizens as a symbol of the disappeared persons crisis that has plagued the country for decades. A memorial in Ocean Grove, New Jersey, displayed 2,974 pairs of shoes in honor of the lives lost on September 11, 2001. Similarly, those who see the thousands of dusty, abandoned shoes on display at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, cannot walk away unchanged.