On May 25, 2012, the Tri-City Herald published an excellent editorial advocating the establishment of a Manhattan Project National Historical Park. The House and Senate Committees on Natural Resources have recently distributed draft discussions of legislation to create such a Park (for more, please click here).
The editorial cites Albert Einstein, explaining that nuclear bombs “indeed changed everything”: "’The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.’" The harnessing of the atom has “dictated the course of human events,” from the course of the Cold War to today’s debate over nuclear weapon development in countries like Iran and North Korea.
The editorial highlights the importance of memory in crafting current events. The editorial rightfully proclaims, “Preservation of the artifacts and places that form the foundation for today's world [are] crucial to our understanding of events.” Establishing a Manhattan Project National Historical Park would also significantly increase tourism to sites in Hanford, WA; Los Alamos, NM; and Oak Ridge, TN. The B Reactor at Hanford is expected to see 10,000 visitors this year. Last year tourists from 49 states and dozens of countries toured the B Reactor. Creating a National Historical Park would increase public access to the B Reactor and dramatically boost tourism to Hanford and the Tri-Cities.
With Representative Doc Hastings of Hanford and Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico chairing the House and Senate Energy Committees, which oversee National Park legislation, the stars are aligned for the 112th Congress to designate a Manhattan Project National Historical Park. But with Senator Bingaman retiring after this term, the opportunity is fleeting. The Atomic Heritage Foundation hopes to see legislation passed mandating the creation of a Park by the end of the year.
As the editorial urges, “Bingaman and Hastings need to do all they can to make the Manhattan Project National Historical Park a reality. Constituents would benefit, of course, but the bigger audience is the world.”