Seventy-one Years Ago

On August 6, 1945 the first Atomic Bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.  The blast killed 80,000 people and reduced the city to rubble.  Tokyo remained silent about surrender so President Harry Truman ordered a second A-Bomb to be dropped on Nagasaki three days later with results almost as devastating.  The Japanese act of surrender occurred on September 2, 1945.

There is an untold story about the development of the atomic bomb which is shared in a book by Richard Cook, a Tennessean, and relayed by Wesley Pruden, editor emeritus of The Washington Times.  One morning in the winter of 1942 (with the war not going well for the U.S.) President Roosevelt summoned Sen. Kenneth McKellar to the White House.

The President explained that he had to hide a billion dollars in the budget for a super-secret defense plant.  “Kenneth, as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, can you do that?”  The old Senator  said,  “Of course, I can.  And where in Tennessee are we going locate this facility?”  It was placed in a remote valley of the Clinch River 25 miles west of Knoxville.

A town was built there deep in Appalachia which was named Oak Ridge as it had a bucolic sound with the hope that few would notice.  But the community grew to 75,000 as women from crossroad villages were sought to move there from Tennessee and Kentucky and Alabama and Georgia and the Carolinas.  Most of them were barely out of high school but the men were gone to war by then.

This was a region without many jobs and suddenly there was work to be done but war work in top secret.  With the Depression wolf still at the door, the young women lit out for the Volunteer State.  The women could not keep notes nor have cameras.   In the hills and valleys of the Tennessee mountains these ladies were pioneers in working with uranium.

It has not been an easy story to tell for two reasons.  The Manhattan Project was top secret and some of it is still classified.  Many of the original sources are now gone and, as noted, they could keep no notes.  Second, in our politically correct ad nauseum age, the Left finds Atomic Weapons to be appalling.

But because of these women of Appalachia, sisters  of Rosie the Riveter and Wendy the Welder,  millions of Japanese and American lives were saved.  One of those may have been my father, a World War II marine.  And we still speak English.

This is an important story that needs to be told.  Especially in this day of political deceit and the laughing at American ideals.  Thank you, ladies!


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