One never knows what will be the surprise of a walk or drive to downtown Fernandina Beach. Today we actually found the beating heart of this Island we call home.
We began to see the empty boots along the street curb, then more and more and more on both sides of the road from down at the beach to just before downtown proper, nearly two miles. Each boot had clipped to it the photo of an American fallen warrior whose life's blood was spent in defense of freedom along with his/her story. The boots were neatly placed with an American flag standing proud in each of them. It must have taken all night to set them in place.
We fetched the camera and decided to stop near a gathering of people. There we discovered a young man who told us about what the boots meant. His is the back of the shirt you see here: he had tears in his eyes when he described how an Island mother of a fallen soldier had taken it upon herself to identify each soldier slain in the line of duty and attach it to a boot. He was running for the fallen from the Kings Bay military installation nearby which was part of the remembering day.
This woman has approximately twenty five hundred boots and photos thus far and her goal is 10,000: one for each casualty and soldier slain since 9-11. Some are only cards clipped to ropes as she has not yet been able to purchase all the boots. Further down in the exhibit were fireman's boots with identifying cards and flags as well. Her major goal is to take this all over the country.
I cannot descibe the emotion this evoked in us. It further angered us that a callous government could actually close off open air monuments to our war dead here and abroad in a senseless lack of respect for the enormous amount of blood shed to keep us all free. We applaud the actions of WWII veterans to open the WWII memorial.
Recently, a letter appeared in our local paper that the mother of a young serviceman from nearby Yullee
had received. Her soldier son had written that if she received that letter it would mean he had fallen.
Not to mourn said he, he had a wonderful mother. a wonderful life in a wonderful country. He was 23 years old.
Makes one proud and so very small in the face of such heroism.
Today we found the beating heart of an Island.