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Congress approves Manhattan Project Historical National Park | News

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Congress approves Manhattan Project Historical National Park

(WBIR) It looks like a new national historic park will be coming to East Tennessee.

The U.S. Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act this week, which authorizes the establishment of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park in three sites-- Oak Ridge, Los Alamos, New Mexico, and Hanford, Washington as a three-site national park. The House and now Senate have both passed the bill.

A look back at the Manhattan Project

"This is a great day for the City of Oak Ridge, and for all Tennesseans," said Oak Ridge Mayor, Warren Gooch. "The legislation recognizes the Manhattan Project as one of the most significant events in U.S. History, with assets and history that must be preserved. We are grateful for the support of our congressional delegation, especially Senator Lamar Alexander and Congressman Chuck Fleischmann, who introduced and co-sponsored legislation that established the park. I also want to acknowledge the efforts of our Council members, past and present, who have contributed to this achievement, particularly former Mayor, Tom Beehan."

Beehan spoke to Congress in Washington in support of the measure.

"It's a great story," said Beehan, " Oak Ridge's story and the Manhattan project is, so I'm very excited. I know the community is too."

Oak Ridge City Manager, Mark Watson added, "Our community has worked toward this goal for more than a decade, helping educate decision makers on the need to preserve the history of the Manhattan Project, and how that history shaped the science and technical innovation that Oak Ridge is known for today. We look forward to partnering with the National Park Service and the Department of Energy to show how our City can be a model for a 21st Century national park."

Oak Ridge city and community leaders have advocated for the national park designation for years to highlight the importance of the work done there World War II. The Manhattan Project was a combined effort to create the atomic bomb that ended the war.

Local Historian Ray Smith believes the park will be a chance for people to dig even deeper into history.

"The most important thing coming out of that atomic age are all the innovations and all of the technological advances that have taken place," Smith said, "Our story is broad, it's not just the bomb. It's what happened after the bomb."

It's already been a year of demolition and rehabilitation in the city, and former Mayor Beehan believes the changes are a positive step.

"This city is taking its history and is really using it to redevelop. History honored, then rehabilitated to be part of of the future."

Now, all that's needed for the legislation is a final signature from the President.


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