JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM (HawaiiNewsNow) - Two thousand military boots were assembled on Ford Island as part of the first Fisher House Hero & Remembrance Run Saturday. Attached to each boot was at least one photo of a fallen service member and an American flag.
At first, those boots lined the route of the 8K run. After the early-morning run was completed, the boots, photos and flags were loaded up and brought to a grassy area near the historic Ford Island control tower.
The project was the brainchild of Theresa Johnson, the manager of Fisher House at Tripler Army Medical Center. Fisher House assists families of patients at major military medical centers.
"These men and women have names. They have faces. And they have families left behind," said Johnson.
Johnson and a group of volunteers reached out as best they could to those families to assemble photographs and stories of those who lost their lives in the line of duty. Johnson also wanted to get a boot for each photograph, but fell short of that goal. All told, there were some 2,000 boots and 6,500 photographs. The photos that couldn't be put on a boot were attached to each other in long rows, and laid on the grass between the rows of boots.
"The uniqueness with the boots is (that) I didn't want to just have these guys' stories," said Johnson. "Those boots are coming from people who are still alive. And they've walked a mile in those footsteps."
Some of the boots have personal messages written on them. Some are painted or decorated to honor the fallen. But each has a photo of a loved one, a father, a brother, a son or daughter. Some of them in uniform, some of them solemn, some of them smiling, nearly all of them forever young. But every single one of them, remembered.
"I was out at Fisher House yesterday and they had them on their front lawn, like this, and you feel like you're at Punchbowl. it's very humbling.," said Anita Dice of the group Soldier's Angels, which helped with the project. "You find yourself looking for somebody you know, and I think a lot of people have been doing that today, looking through the boots for somebody that they know."
"We did have some of the families who had actually lost their children helping us, so it was really cool that they could do that. And they were very honored. It's just been an amazing journey for everybody," Johnson said.
Johnson intends to have the event again next year, she hopes with more photos and boots. "As long as I'm in Hawaii, it's gonna be happening," she said.
The boots will be on display at Ford Island near the Pacific Aviation Museum through Saturday Sept 1.
Related Link: Fisher House's Facebook Page