If you haven’t already, I quite recommend you read Donovan Webster’s 1998 book Aftermath: The Remnants of War, which discusses the never-ending scourge of unexploded ordnance. UXO was a big deal a decade ago, but it’s something that seems to have largely faded from view since.
I was reminded of this today when I saw an article in the Independent about 26 year-old Belgian Maité Roël, whose leg was nearly severed by a WWI bomb in 1992, and who has the extremely dubious distinction of being – for now – the youngest and most recent victim of the Great War.
Crippled and left in pain by an unexploded bomb dropped seventy-four years earlier. Forced to undergo surgery 29 times. Left addicted to painkillers for a decade. Left unable to function after that without the numbing effects of cannabis and alcohol.
Shit, war sure is glamorous, isn’t it?
Don’t feel bad about the War on Terror, though. Maité Roël is only alive – and in pain – and on drugs – because of the state-of-the-art medical system in western Europe. Seventy-four years from now, kids who encounter UXO in Afghanistan and Iraq probably won’t live long enough to become crippled drug addicts. Small mercies, no?