Let’s Help Create a Nuclear Park! Updated 11/1

Okay, maybe it sounds strange, but I’m sure that there are a lot of us out there who would take the risk of eternal glow-in-the-dark-edness to get to see the sites that played important roles in the Manhattan Project. The National Trust for Historic Preservation thinks so, too. That’s why the Trust is supporting an effort to create the Manhattan Project National Historical Park.

For information about the park, go to the National Trust blog. Then, you can go to the Trust’s pre-written letter page to easily send a missive to your Congressperson. It’s really too simple, isn’t it? So go, send the letter. Do it now. We’re counting down… 10… 9… 8… 7… 6…

and here are the links:
Trust blog: http://blog.preservationnation.org/2012/07/19/the-manhattan-project-20th-century-history-21st-century-significance/
Trust letter: https://secure2.convio.net/nthp/site/Advocacy?pagename=homepage&page=UserAction&id=721&autologin=true

Update November 1: On September 21st I received this update on the Manhattan Project designation process:

“MANHATTAN PROJECT PARK BILL FAILS HOUSE VOTE

In today’s environment, even bi-partisan support from influential Democrats and Republicans does not guarantee passage. On Wednesday the House was forced to delay consideration of H.R.5987 which would establish a Manhattan Project unit in the National Park System.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), a well-known anti-nuclear supporter objected to the bill on moral grounds and led a late night debate, rallying enough to support to stop the bill from passing under an expedited procedure that needed 2/3 of the vote to pass. He asked the members to stand for veterans, fiscal responsibility, and friendships with the Japanese people and to vote against a bill that celebrates the Manhattan Project. He stated, “At a time when we should be organizing the world towards abolishing nuclear weapons before they abolish us, we are instead indulging in admiration at our cleverness as a species…The bomb is about graveyards; it’s not about national parks.”

Given the House bills high-level bi-partisan support it’s very possible it will be brought up again in November under regular order. The outlook for the Senate companion measure, S.3300, introduced by retiring Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is also good. However it only takes one “hold” request from one Senator to block a bill and Rep. Kucinich’s success could inspire a Senator to object and place a hold.

The Manhattan Project legislation would focus on three locations where the atomic bomb was devised and built – Los Alamos, NM; Oak Ridge, TN, and Hanford, WA. Most of the land and buildings would come from existing Department of Energy facilities. The Senate bill would also authorize the acquisition of private land from willing sellers.”

Thoughts? Kucinich has a point, I guess. It really is the celebration of the place where the refinement of a massive killing machine took place. It’s like making a National Historical Park of the place where the Gatlin gun was invented.

It does seem like a strange National Park. I guess I think of National Parks as being “park-like” with trees and dirt and stuff, even if they are National Historical Parks. The Manhattan Project Park would really be a way of designating discontiguous sites that aren’t being designated for their natural beauty, but for the events that happened there. There are other, similar National Historical Parks associated with the Revolutionary War, the Gold Rush, and native peoples’ cultures.

I guess I’m torn. Maybe it’s enough to have the Manhattan Project sites listed in the National Register of Historic Places, or maybe even as National Historic Landmarks.

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