Today 7,000 pairs of shoes were placed on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., to honor children who lost their lives to gun violence since 2012’s Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut.
The advocacy group Avaaz organized the event, which began 8:30 a.m. ET, with families of the victims placing their shoes on the South East lawn in the “Monument for our Kids” tribute installment.
Among them, Tom Mauser, whose son Daniel was killed in the Columbine school massacre in 1999, told Avaaz in a statement that he planned to wear the same shoes his son wore when he was killed.
“I think this kind of event with shoes offers a very powerful metaphor both for how we miss the victims who once filled those shoes, and also for how we see ourselves wanting to walk in their place, seeking change, so that others don’t have to walk this painful journey,” Mauser said.
Some famous names have also contributed to the project, including Bette Midler, Susan Sarandon, Alyssa Milano, Chelsea Handler, Vanessa Bayer, Brett Davern and Hayley Mills. All 7,000 pairs will be donated to charity.
In 2015, Avaaz organized a similar event using shoes as a metaphor after a march on climate change in Paris was canceled following a terrorist attack. Demonstrators, instead, used their footwear to make a statement; along with contributions of shoes by Pope Francis and sneakers from the United Nations secretary general, Ban-Ki Moon.