The question is not whether history will be debated, but how.
The key is telling how times affect deeds. If the past fades out, debate decays to mere sound and fury.
The Manhattan Project National Historical Park is in the offing. To gain perspective, the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Park Service came to town last week. The agencies sought ways to display history that changed history, its actual sites, accurate accounts of details, a breadth of aspects and human interest.
The largest gathering in their visit was on the wide lawn at Fuller Lodge last Tuesday. Discussing this column’s themes with the National Park Service found out their thoughts run parallel.
As we did in 2010, our citizens group proposed telling environmental history. The idea has two parts, events and context:
1) The park should relate the environmental history of nuclear weapons work.
2) This history should be set in the context of the nation’s environmental history for the same period.
In the 1940s, there were few laws, just common practices. The Manhattan Project — at Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, Tennessee and Hanford, Washington — followed the waste-handling practices of the time.
On this point, atomic scientists thought like industrial engineers.