Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tn.) on Thursday, introduced legislation that would designate three sites of the World War II-era Manhattan Project, including sites at Oak Ridge, as a National Historical Park.
“The Manhattan Project is one of the most significant events in American history, and the facilities at Oak Ridge continue to be an important source of jobs and research for Tennessee and the rest of the country,” Senator Alexander said.
The legislation, introduced by Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wa.) and Senator Alexander, would designate sites at Oak Ridge as well as Los Alamos, N.M., and Hanford, Wa., as the Manhattan Project National Historical Park. Senator Alexander is the lead Republican cosponsor, and he also introduced the legislation in the last Congress. The park would include in its designation the Beta-3 racetracks and Alpha Calutron magnets at Y-12.
Tennessee’s history with the project ties back to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s request of Senator Kenneth McKellar, a Tennessee Democrat, to help him secretly fund a project – ultimately the creation of the atomic bomb – to help end the war. Senator McKellar famously asked President Roosevelt “where in Tennessee” he’d like to locate the project.
“That place in Tennessee turned out to be Oak Ridge, one of 30 different sites in three different countries,” Senator Alexander said. “As Americans, we have a special obligation to preserve and protect our heritage, and the Manhattan Project National Historical Park will ensure that all Americans learn about the significance of the Manhattan Project and how it continues to shape our history.”