David Sheldon 38” x 46” • Oil on Canvas

David Sheldon
38” x 46” • Oil on Canvas

After reading Gabriel Garcia’s moving piece about seeing the thousands of boots of fallen heroes from Afghanistan, I immediately knew the piece for me had to have a raw, grittiness of war to it, but also a feeling of light – of the light of all these souls who had sacrificed their lives for others. I decided to depict the boots as if they had just come off the feet of the soldier
who owned them, rather have them polished-up for presentation. I wanted the boots to look like they had really been lived and died in. I decided to bring some of Gabriel’s actual words into the painting, as I felt that would add a feeling of personal story and sacrifice to the work. Finally, as mentioned, I chose to emphasize the strong presence of light as an embodiment of hope.

Inspired by the experiences of Gabriel Garcia

One of These Boots
by Gabriel Garcia

A flag, a photo, a name, and a date are all on one boot.

A memory, a story, a laugh, and a cry are all on one boot.

A son, a husband, and a friend are all on one boot.

A daughter, a sister, and a nurse are all on one boot.

A hero, a Medal of Honor recipient, a book, and a movie are all on one boot.

A crew, a team, a crash, and a tragedy are all in a group of boots.

A son of a Command Sergeant Major, a Samoan family in their traditional attire and art are all displayed on one boot.

A husband who transferred bases to be with his wife on Christmas, who was killed two days later is on a boot.

A highly decorated Airborne Ranger with over 30 years of military service and multiple combat deployments is on a boot.

A 2-Star General who was killed in an insider attack is on a boot.

Two Paratroopers killed in an insider attack within days of arriving in country are on a pair of boots.

A Senior Enlisted Paratrooper who went home in a flag draped coffin and placed on the back of a C-17 cargo plane is on a boot.
A Paratrooper who volunteered for another tour so that his fellow comrades can spend time with their families is on a boot.

Seeing the names, faces, and dates that were on these boots, made me realize that I could have been one of these boots.

Memorial Day 2015 was the first Memorial Day for me since coming home from Afghanistan. These were my thoughts when I saw thousands of boots on a football field in Fort Bragg, NC. Each boot had a small American flag along with an I.D. tag of the photo, name, and date of when that Service Member died overseas. There were over 20 boots from the day I left the United States in December 2013 to the day I returned home safely in August of 2014. Thousands of names, stories, pain, and tears are on these boots. This poem is dedicated to every Soldier, Marine, Airmen, Sailor, and Coast Guardsmen that are one of these boots.