Letter To The Editor: We Are In Danger Of Forgetting

By ELOY J. GALLEGOS
Knoxville, Tenn.
 
Whoa! Just one minuto. Por favor! Before moving forward with the funding for National Historic Parks at three Manhattan Project locations maybe we should look at the proposal more carefully.
 
What is the legacy regarding the Manhattan Project and its offsprings? What have we inherited? Today, the atomic locations of the Manhattan Project are insidious deserts of toxic horror. Nothing within some of these spaces can be taken as safe and not one considered immune.
 
These places, at one time totaling 79 in number, consisted of noxious regions, injured workers and bystanders, stockpiles of nuclear weapons, and pools of untreatable radioactive and/or toxic organic waste.
 
Regardless of the secrecy surrounding the nuclear community and its legacies, documents have revealed radiation poisoning, whether of retarded children in State Institutions, hospitalized patients in medical institutions or “downwinders” breathing air and drinking the milk tainted by the making and testing of atomic weapons, not to mention those unwitting souls, the young men in uniform who handled toxic waste, not realizing that the consequences would be dying painful deaths in bunk after bunk at Los Alamos with their skin decaying and falling off of their bones.
 
The Project and its legacies are disappearing from the consciousness and conscience of our culture and moral life. We are in danger of forgetting its horrors.
 
When horrors of this nature become so deeply imbedded in everyday discourse and yet are so painful, ambiguous, and complex, that they seem to be a part of the existence upon which we judge the world and determine our role within it.
 
I am eighty years of age and I am no loger confused about what is important. I have lived most of my life in the vicinity of two of the most toxic places, Los Alamos New Mexico, and Oak Ridge Tennessee.
 
I served my country honorably during the Korean War, worked in the most top-secret space in the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and conducted audits and investigation for the Congress of the United States for a dozen years. I wear no blinders. They were removed during my years of service to my country.
 
So what is important? Truth is the single most important aspect of our existence. It too appears to have disappeared from our consciousness and the conscience of our cultural and ethical life.
 
We should keep in mind that we are the only country in the world that has detonated nuclear bombs in populated cities and/or towns intentionally. Not just once; not just twice; but three times.
 
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