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Work on the Manhattan Project, which conceived the atomic bomb, was commemorated in three sites: Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Los Alamos, New Mexico; and Hanford, Washington. The bombs were dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and heralded the end of WWII. (Photo : James E. Westcott | Wikimedia)
Manhattan Project National Historical Park Commemorates Development Of Atomic Bomb
By Katrina Pascual, Tech Times | November 12, 8:55 AM
A new national historical park remembers the birth of the atomic bomb, which was secretly created by scientists over 70 years ago and signaled the end of the World War II and the nuclear era on Earth.
Interior secretary Sally Jewell and energy secretary Ernest Moniz unveiled the Manhattan Project National Historical Park last Nov. 10 at a ceremony held in the federal building where plans for the bomb were clandestinely made – a few blocks away from the White House.
Work on the atomic bomb was commemorated in three sites that the park aimed to preserve: Oak Ridge Tennessee; Los Alamos, New Mexico; and Hanford, Washington.
The bomb, after being tested in the New Mexico desert in July 1945, was dropped in Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August, killing at least 129,000 and remaining the only nuclear warfare weapon so far in history.
Jewell as well as other government officials did not consider the park a glorification of nuclear weaponry or war, but instead a retelling of the tale of the historical sites based on different perspectives, including those of Japanese.
"It's not necessarily a celebration of the consequences of that, but rather an opportunity to tell that story to a broader audience,” said Jewell, who oversees the National Park Service and also recalled her mother-in-law who was a nurse in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. "It was a powerful experience for her.”
For Moniz, the Manhattan Project is one of the greatest American feats in engineering and science, laying the foundation for the U.S.’s National Lab system and its succeeding breakthroughs.
For him it sends a story of a nuclear-free world, which he believed the United States and Japan shared.
The project was headquartered in Oak Ridge, the site where uranium was harnessed for the Hiroshima bomb. In the Hanford location, plutonium for the Nagasaki bomb was developed, while in Los Alamos over 6,000 engineers and scientists designed and created the bombs.
Jewell added that while the dropping of the atomic bomb heralded the end of the war, “it left devastation in its wake.”
Emphasizing the need to tell the whole story of the Manhattan Project from various sides, the interior secretary also addressed the ordinary people recruited in the plan and the Japanese guests in the audience.
Director Greg Mello of anti-nuclear watchdog Los Alamos Study Group, however, touted the park as “pure propaganda” for the unceasing creation of mass-destruction weapons.
"This park is not exactly about the past, because the Manhattan Project never ended," Mello said in an e-mail, citing the continual nuclear work in all project sites.
The park, established by the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, will be managed in partnership by the interior and energy departments.
The former’s National Park Service offers visitor information, interpretation, and assistance in preservation, while the latter owns and manages the properties.