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A Platinum Anniversary for U.S. Atomic Heritage - EM’s Historic Manhattan Project Sites Gain International Media Attention

September 1, 2012 - 12:00pm


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Traditionally, a platinum anniversary marks 70-years. The Manhattan project legacy reached that special milestone this summer, highlighting a remarkable history involving the Oak Ridge and Hanford sites and Los Alamos National Laboratory. Bipartisan legislation making its way through Congress could commemorate America’s atomic history by turning these sites into a national park, a prospect that continues to gain national and international media attention in print, online and on TV and radio.

Today, thousands of scientists work in those labs on unrelated research, developing pioneering technologies used for Mars exploration, chemotherapy, whole-body X-ray scanning at airports, "high-speed computers and biotechnology. This work is a legacy of the brilliant scientists who worked at the sites during World War II, Energy Department officials said.

Now, some 70 years later, a bipartisan initiative seeks to designate these three sites as a National Park. That’s a fine idea. Such a move would expand access to these crucial historical sites as well as provide funding and staffing to preserve them. Given their importance in the histories of the United States, the Cold War and the 20th century, Congress should pass the park designation bill by Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and companion legislation by Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.).

“History isn’t always pretty, and I think it’s important that we don’t lose this history or lose the ability to reflect on that history.”
-- Ellen McGhee, LANL Archeologist and Historian

"This is our story, and the way that things were done in Oak Ridge. It's about the people that were here. The people's story is fascinating," she said. "The average age was 27 years old. No one knew what they were doing. They came here with a purpose, which was to help the war effort. I think there's more to the story than we built a bomb here."
-- Katy Brown, the president of the Oak Ridge Convention and Visitors Bureau

A bill to establish the Manhattan Project National Historical Park did not receive enough votes to the pass the House of Representatives. Given bipartisan support for the measure, the legislation may come before the House again for another vote.