Remembrance Day is a date that is fixed in the minds of all of us. The two second silence that is observed on November 11, on the eleventh hour, is meant to honour those who died in the First and Second World Wars, and the countless men and women who lost their lives in many battles that have followed since. But for many of us, we fail to consider the lives that have been eternally changed by the outcome of war; the soldiers that have suffered life-changing injuries, in the form of losing limbs, emotional or physical scars.
These are the people for whom the war will never end, as they are constantly reminded of the great sacrifice they made, for a conflict that was not of their making. They now face the struggle of coming to terms with their disability and trying to readjust into a world they may not feel that they fit into anymore.
It is these people that rock legend Bryan Adams wants to bring to our attention, in his book ‘Wounded: The Legacy of War’. The book is a series of photographs taken by the singer himself, and depict the ongoing struggle some people face on a daily basis. As Adams states: “The legacy of war, of the pain and injury we inflict upon each other, is not solely represented by those Union Flag-draped coffins solemnly shouldered from the bowels of the military aircraft; it is epitomised even more graphically by those who survived, albeit with terrible injuries.”
And Adams is right. We are all too used to seeing the coffins being flown back to the soldiers’ nation, but rarely do we get to witness the ongoing legacy that the wounds of war have inflicted. Instead, we honour them with medals and parades and then get on with our normal routines. However, the people who have suffered from the acts of war cannot return to their daily lives, and have to face up to their injuries for the rest of theirs.
Adams wants us all to not only remember the dead therefore, but to spare a thought for the living, the soldiers and civilians that came back from a war a shell of their former self. His book contains powerful images of British men and women who were affected during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and their own stories, as told to ITN journalist Caroline Froggatt.
For many who are included in the book, this was the very first time they had revealed the extent of their injuries to anyone else apart from their close family. And although their accounts of what happened to them was raw, brutal and at times unsettling, Adams believes that it is the pictures that will have the greatest impact. While he was taking the photographs of the wounded, he came across a huge variety of injuries. Some were badly burned, others couldn’t speak properly, many had limbs blown off and some were even blinded.
During the course of making the book, Adams came to realise that these victims were struggling to deal with everyday tasks that we all take for granted. Getting out of bed, making a cup of coffee, opening a can of beans, going to the toilet; all things that we do not give a second thought to. And it was these ongoing struggles that Adams was determined to display in his book: “But revere, too, the injured who survived – those seeming ‘lucky ones’ whose anguished minds and mutilated bodies mean they can never forget either the horrors of battle or the struggle beyond to adapt and overcome.
Once the dust settles on the plains of Afghanistan and in the deserts of Iraq, and the spin and propaganda of governments and politicians have become a distant echo, all that is left are the wounded. They are, truly, our legacy of war.”
You can buy the Adam’s book on Amazon for £50, and proceeds from the sales will go to support:
- BLESMA: supports Servicemen and women who have lost limbs or their eyesight during combat
- Blind Veterans UK: provides training and rehabilitation for the visually impaired
- Combat Stress: counsels psychologically wounded soldiers
- SSAFA: offers accommodation and advice in times of need and upheaval
- War Child: a small international charity that protects children from the brutal effects of war and its consequences.
All images courtesy Bryan Adams