New National Parks proposed
Three new national parks are being proposed and might just inch their way through Congress in the near future. The three projected parks would be sites of former nuclear testing: Hanford, Washington, Oak Ridge Tennessee, and Los Alamos, New Mexico, according to the Washington Post.
The Hanford site produced plutonium. The Oak Ridge site enriched uranium. And workers in Los Alamos used those materials to assemble the Little Boy and Fat Man bombs dropped on Japan, forcing the Japanese surrender and ending the war. About 200,000 civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki perished.
The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation called the creation and use of the atomic bomb “the single most significant event of the 20th century’’ in advocating the preservation of buildings once scheduled for demolition.
If the purpose of national parks is to preserve our resources and our history, then these sites should be added to the list of national parks. Nuclear use is not without its darker side, however. I hope that all sides of the issue will be told. I fear that the parks will become highly controversial and that once again extremes will rule the day while the rest of us would be very happy for the added park lands.
It is amazing that over 100,000 people were employed in one way or other with the Manhattan project and yet its top secret status was pretty well maintained. Such secrecy would never happen today with the 24/7 cable shows, FOIA, and the Internet. Good, some might say. However, history proves time and time again how vital the element of surprise was when it came to winning WWII. Those who lived back in the day always repeat how desperate times were. My mother used the expression ‘nip and tuck’ to describe how dire the situation was.
War to civilians is so remote now, it is difficult to imagine. Korea and Vietnam also didn’t impact our daily lives for those of us who were around in those days. Perhaps that’s our problem. War is too clean and too remote for us to grasp its horror.
3 National Parks with a nuclear theme might bring us to better terms with the giant we created and yes, unleashed on our enemies. Those old enemies soon embraced this power giant only to grow careless again and barely escape another catastrophe after the 2011 earthquake that severely damaged the structure of at least one of Japan’s nuclear power plants. Nuclear energy can only be our friend if we respect that it can also turn into our instant Voldemort.