Long after wars are settled land mines continue to take lives

My family was one of the first to visit the Czech Bohemian countryside after the Iron Curtain collapsed in 1989. Nothing, in my opinion, can match the charm of that fabled region of mysterious woods, sparkling streams and undulating forested hills. I recall we were walking in the former “no man’s land” on the West German/Czech border, where machine-gun emplacements, guard towers and patrol roads had fallen into disuse. Nature was reclaiming an area previously cleared only for avenues of fire. My three sons were bounding around, while my wife and I remarked upon the German gravestones still to be found under the pine trees. No one had lived here for some 45 years.

Then one of the boys came over to me and said: “Look, Daddy. What are those?”

Clustered at the base of a stream bank were several land mines, forgotten from the Cold War. I marched my family in the opposite direction, nature’s reverie shocked away by a fear that locked onto our every step. The attractive forest path might have enticed my whole family to slaughter.


To read the rest of John’s Davis’ article in American magazine

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