Ignored Heroes of World War II: The Manhattan Project workers of Oak Ridge, Tennessee

Written by Richard Cook
Category: · Arts & Photography · History

It’s one of the great untold epic stories of American history.
The Manhattan Project was the largest industrial project ever undertaken by mankind. Americans have no concept of the speed or the audacious scale of this endeavor to make enriched fuel for a weapon.
Over 75,000 Americans worked 24/7 in Oak Ridge, Tennessee for almost three years, in the largest secret scientific/industrial complex ever built in human history. When finished, the uranium needed was the size of volleyball. Over 75,000 workers work 24//7 for almost three years…for a volleyball.
What drove this massive effort? Two things: Adolf Hitler and the slaughter of war. Hitler had an atomic bomb program too. If he got the bomb first, London would be gone. This was a race, with millions of lives hanging in the balance. Every second counted.
The breakneck pace of the project also happened because of American soldiers dying in distant lands. The loss of American life during World War II would equal a 9/11 attack every five days for three and a half years. The slaughter had to stop.
Ignored Heroes of World War II, is an oral history with quotes from these workers who were eye-witnesses to the most important event of the 20th century. Over 100 photographs from Oak Ridge compliment the oral histories. Never before has there been a narrative told from the perspective of the workers who came to this top secret industrial plant to help end the deadliest conflict ever seen by mankind.
Modest by nature, optimistic by the demands of war, these workers, mostly young, mostly women and mostly single, weave their tales of work, love, marriage and the stresses of war and isolation. It is unlike any narrative from our nation’s history.
The story line is a hybrid of science fiction fantasia, patriotic inspired drama and romantic intrigue.
Their determination, their humor and their pluck can inspire and humble us today. When called upon, Americans are capable of great sacrifice, resilience and devotion; which all flows from a love of country and, ultimately, from a love of family.
These ignored heroes did everything asked of them to get their boys back home safely. It is time for these heroes to tell their stories. We can ignore them no longer.


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