Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Manhattan Project: Celebrating? Or commemorating?

A Quonset hut on the grounds of the Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico where "Fat Man" (atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945) was assembled. The hut would be part of a new Manhattan Project National Park.

Historical photograph courtesy of Los Alamos National Laboratory. I'm not sure if this caption means this was the actual hut, or just one like it.
A US congressman has condemned a bill to make a national park out of three top-secret sites which housed the Manhattan Project.

"We're talking about the devastation of the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki — hundreds of thousands killed, $10 trillion Cold War between the U.S. and Russia, tens of thousands of nuclear weapons which today threaten the existence of the world — and this is something we should celebrate?"

The words of Democrat congressman Dennis Kucinich (Ohio), reported by NPR.

The contrary position is put by director of the Los Alamos Historical Society, Heather McClenahan. A park would be a commemoration, not a celebration. And the US already has national parks commemorating slavery, Civil War battles and American Indian massacres.

"It's a chance to say, 'Why did we do this? What were the good things that happened? What were the bad? How do we learn lessons from the past? How do we not ever have to use an atomic bomb in warfare again?' "

That’s history.

Read it on the NPR website where you can also download an audio clip, 3 min 38 sec.

The congressman and the history woman are both right of course.  But of the two, the history woman is the righter.

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