A bipartisan coalition in Congress, at my urging, recently defeated legislation that would authorize up to $21,000,000 of taxpayers' money to build a series of parks in honor of the Manhattan Project, the project that resulted in the development of the atomic bomb. Supporters of the "Bomb Park" have vowed to bring the bill back to Congress before the year's end. I urge them to focus their energy on more productive activities.
The atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians. Radiation from the bombs affected a generation of Japanese people, and the effects are felt to this day.
Historical revisionists argue that the use of the bomb was necessary to end the war. This argument directly contradicts the opinions of the top military and government leaders, who at the time stated otherwise. General and later President Dwight D. Eisenhower said he thought "dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary." General MacArthur and several other top military commanders have been similarly quoted. The use of the bombs was a political decision that led to the Cold War and an arms race. Revisionists who celebrate the use of the Bomb fail to mention the trillions spent in Cold War military build ups as the age of nuclear terror enveloped the globe.
The atomic technology cannot be separated from its application. The creation of the bomb cannot be separated from the horror the bomb created. The service of all who sacrificed during World War II would not be honored by this proposed park which would celebrate the triumph of technology over the epic human sacrifice and loss of life.
There are those who assert that the park could serve as a monument to the historical significance of the Manhattan Project and not necessarily the technology behind it or its effects. The Bradbury Science Museum already exists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. This museum is instructive. Note how it treats the Bomb:
When you walk into the Bradbury Science Museum, you are greeted on your immediate left by replicas of Fat Man and Little Boy, the two bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The space surrounding them does not include a picture of the leveled Japanese cities or pictures of children with subsequent birth defects. The bombs reside in a section of the museum called "Defense," which presents information on the nuclear arsenal, the nuclear stockpile, plutonium and explosives. Other sections discuss how nuclear energy works and how the bomb was triggered. A substantive discussion of the myriad negative impacts of the technology that came out of the Manhattan Project is relegated to a far corner which provides space for public input. This display is the precedent for the translation of policy and ideology in the proposed national park.
The "Bomb Park" is a mistake. We should not spend another $21,000,000 to "spike the nuclear football." We are defined by what we celebrate. We should not celebrate nuclear bombs.