Proud of the cloud
June 19, 2002
What part of mushroom cloud doesn’t depict atomic testing in Nevada?
When the state bowed to political correctness in removing the cloud from a license plate commemorating the Nevada Test Site and its role in Nevada History, it was trying to edit the past.
Officials said it wouldn’t be polite to put a mushroom cloud on a license plate, what with India and Pakistan getting ready to melt each other and the possibility of nuclear terrorism.
But that is exactly why the mushroom cloud should be the symbol of Nevada’s atomic heritage.
There is no doubt about it, nuclear weapons have kept peace in a world otherwise torn by turmoil for the last 57 years.
It wasn’t kindness or enlightenment that kept the world powers from coming to blows for the last half century, it was fear.
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Fear that unleashing the terrible force of the atom could bring human culture to an abrupt end. Fear that no matter how powerful your army, air force or navy, one bomb carried by one missile could do more damage than the Army Air Corps did to Hitler’s Germany over four years.
Suddenly, nations small and large had a trump card that requires they be treated with respect.
If Serbia or Afghanistan had nuclear weapons, there would be no American invasion.
All that aside, the atomic license plates promised to be a hot ticket for the state.
In just over a month, 322 people had signed letters of intent to purchase it. In comparison, six months after its approval, the Virginia & Truckee Railroad was still 10 plates short of the 250 needed to start making them.
In a state where Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman endorses gin, prostitution is still legal and print ads ask “What kind of animal are you?” the mushroom cloud was a no-brainer.
Nevada is not about what is popular or politically correct. A state that worried too much about what others think would never have been able to put up the fight against a nuclear repository that Nevada has.
As Nevadans, we often wave what others see as our faults like a flag. The mushroom cloud is just another badge of honor we earned. We should wear it with pride.
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