Portrait commemorates Los Alamos anniversary

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By Gina Velasquez

A heartfelt dedication took place at the Betty Ehart Senior Center on Friday afternoon for the unveiling of a portrait of General Leslie Groves, who played a crucial role in the Manhattan Project. 

In conjunction with the 70th anniversary of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Los Alamos Historical Society has agreed to house and honor one of the key players in the development of the atomic bomb.

Members of LANL and historians attended the event and spoke about how the labs have held an important role in the world, the Los Alamos community and the future as a whole. 

“The last 70 years have mattered, but the next 70 years is what matters more,” Council chair Geoff Rodgers said. “This gift will remind of us of our past.”

The family of Groves, who died in 1970, has had the portrait for many years and ‘did not want it to end up in a closet somewhere,’ according to Nancy Bartlit, a Los Alamos historian who knows some of Groves’ family members personally. 

During her speech at the unveiling, Bartlit presented a slideshow of the dedication of two statues, one of Groves and one of J. Robert Oppenheimer, that are on display at the Fuller Lodge. Groves’ family members were present at that event back in May 2011. 

Also in attendance was Alan Carr, LANL historian, who spoke about historical events and described what kind of man Groves was; and Lt. Col. Antoinette Gant, from the U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers, who talked about the importance of LANL in the U.S. government and the world. 

“The Corps and Los Alamos were fortunate to have Gen. Groves,” Gant said, “his drive, his expertise, and his experience. The Manhattan Project did not ‘just happen,’ as the author Robert Norris wrote. ‘It happened in a certain way. The Groves way.’”

McMillan added, “There is a lot of work to start or continue here at the labs. We have a bright history and future here.” 

The portrait of Groves will be on display at the Los Alamos Historical Society.