“They took their swords, and all the weapons which were used for the shedding of man’s blood, and they did bury them up deep in the earth.”
In this scripture, the ancient American Anti-Nephi-Lehies buried their weapons of war so they wouldn’t be tempted to shed “man’s blood.” In our day, Albania is undertaking a similar task- to disarm the bullets and landmines left by their military past. Though Albania has not sworn to never enter war again (as the Anti-Nephi-Lehies did), Albania’s ammunition and land mine disarmament indicates a desire for a more peaceful future.
Albania’s military background
Albania is one of the most militarized nations in the world. The Albanian army is often likened to the Israeli army- recruiting nearly all its youth to train for war from the time they enter public school.
During the Cold War, communist leader Enver Hoxha prepared Albania for invasion by storing billions of rounds of ammunition and thousands of landmines. It wasn’t until 2008 that Albania realized how dangerous these ammunition stockpiles and landmines could be.
Accidental explosion at Gerdec
On Saturday March 15, 2008, a group of U.S. and Albanian ammunition experts attempted to ignite a small stockpile of ammunition. However, instead of exploding the ammunition in a series of contained explosions, the entire stockpile exploded at the same time.
The resulting explosion killed 26 people and injured over 300 people. Over 2,300 buildings were damaged or destroyed by the explosion. The Gerdec explosion left a crater as deep as a ten-story building is tall.
Disarming Albania’s ammunition
After the Gerdec explosions, Albania decided to focus more on disarming its stockpiles of bullets and landmines. Now the companies that once produced landmines under President Hoxha are working to disarm them. Each month thousands of landmines are disarmed and tens of thousand of bullets are burned in a contained oven.
Despite Albania’s violent past, it’s efforts to disarm ammunition and landmines are a sign to the international community that Albania wants peace.
“Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war.”
Personal Notes: I look forward to the day that all nations will no longer prepare for war. I’m so grateful for those who sacrificed their lives anciently (Anti-Nephi-Lehies) and in modern times (the Gerdec disarming team) for giving their lives in pursuit of peace. I know God will bless us as we seek to be peacemakers among His children