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UXOs in Quang Tri: A Digital Narrative

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♪ [ Acoustic guitar strumming ] ♪ In her 2006, Natural History of Vietnam, Eleanor Sterling likens the deminsions of Vietnam's political boarders to that of an hourglass. This shapely analogy is apt, but time, the abstract component in this analogy has not played its role in healing all of Vietnam's physical wounds Remnants of the Vietnam's War, "The American War," as they call it, compose only the top layer in this tiny country's geology of war; a strata that digs down through a thousand years of Vietnamese history. In many cases the rusting airplanes, and tank carcasses are sources of pride for the Vietnamese, acting as displays in the museum of Vietnam's thousand-year war for independence. And though they act as uncomfortable reminders, the war has long been over for these hulks. They're no threat to anyone. No one told the UXOs that the violence was over, and if they heard, they surely do not care They are our soulless mechanisms of war, and they wait with the quiet patience of a thing that deals only in death. During the middle part of the 20th Century, United States military aircraft dropped over 15-million tons of explosives and munitions on the country of Vietnam. ♪ [ music playing over loud concussions of exploding bombs ] ♪ ♪ [ Music ] ♪ Today the dangers comes, not from the bombs that did explode. It comes from the bombs that did not. They are the legacy. Of the 15-million tons dropped, 300,000 tons of those munitions lay at rest in Vietnam's countryside, waiting for the final shove that makes the explode. They're everywhere. These bombs and rockets; anti-personell mines, anti-tank mines, are known collectively as unexploded ordnance. UXOs These devices do not discriminate. Young. Old Men Women Livestock If misshandled they will explode. If handled correctly they still might explode. Exploding is the whole point for these things. Since the war ended in 1975 35,000 Vietnamese civilians have been killed in unexploded ordinance accidents. 35,000. That's like the death of every person attending a baseball game at Fenway Park. And just like the baseball fans, all civilians. Every one. The most effected area is tiny Quang Tri province. In Vietnam's hourglass, Quang Tri is its pinched center. In Quang Tri the threat of UXOs is not one of simple bad luck. Poverty compounds the problem, because food and money often run short. One source of extra income is the duty paid for scrap metal. UXOs are an excellent source of scrap metal, so mines and shells are hunted by amateur deminers. A lot of them are kids, sent to find scraps to sell, or to clear newly discovered mines from crop fields Quang Tri's western half is a rugged place. There are no fields to spare. The mines must go with or without the assistance of a professional. A good share of the time the mines are harvested and sold without incident but sometimes they blow up. At the end of 2000, the Vietnam veterans Memorial fund - these are the folks that built the memorial in Washington D.C. - returned to Vietnam. The delegation, mostly veterans of the war, had been invited to celebrate 25 years of peace. Vietnam war veterans posses a unique knowledge of Southeast Asia. They knew that if anyone had earned a peaceful existence, it was the Vietnamese. Something had to be done about the UXOs. A true peace for Vietnam meant getting the bombs and the mines out of the ground; neutralize the treat so that no one else gets hurt, and help those who have been hurt construct a meaningful life, with things like medicine, prosthetics, or maybe a house; a job an education a cow, anything they could do to help. It was time to do it. They started an organization and called it "Project RENEW." Restoring the Environment and Neutralizing the Effects of War. That's the acronym. Neutralizing the effects of war. That's the least we can do. ♫ Talk to me, talk to me, please ♫ ♫ Talk to me, talk to me, please ♫

Video Details

Duration: 7 minutes and 27 seconds
Country: United Kingdom
Language: English
Producer: Reginald Martell
Director: Reginald Martell
Views: 111
Posted by: studentsforrenew on Jul 4, 2009

A short film, from Students for Renew, about the continuing threat of unexploded ordinance in Quang Tri province, Vietnam.

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