Photographs and news feeds are often the first thing to come to mind when remembering September 11 and the World Trade Center. Most of us will never have the opportunity to visit Ground Zero in New York and so, to a certain extent, the 9/11 attacks remain almost an abstract event. Something so important to our nation should be more than an intangible image which is exactly why the Atomic Testing Museum is including a beam from the shattered World Trade Center in their permanent exhibit.
Since 2005, the Nevada Test Site and the international Cold War has been immortalized at the Atomic Testing Museum located just a few minutes from the Las Vegas Strip. The exhibits reveal the progression of nuclear testing taking into account not just the act of detonation, but the impact of the nuclear age on the world. The conclusion of the exhibit includes a piece of the Berlin Wall, a symbol of the end of the Cold War, and a three-foot Trade Center beam on loan from the Smithsonian, a symbol of the on-going war on terror.
The ATM is returning the smaller beam to the Smithsonian and on February 27, will replace it with a 6 foot tall, one ton steel I-beam from the World Trade Center.
The I-beam will be displayed in such a way as to allow visitors to touch the the scorched and damaged steel. Troy Wade, chairman of the Nevada Test Site Historical Foundation said “this will allow people to get a step closer, to actually touch a piece of one of the most historic occasions in the history of this country.’
What national catchphrase preceded “What happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas” and even pre-dates “Sin City?”
During the Liberace and Frank Sinatra years, Las Vegas was known as “The Up and Atom City”, a direct reference to the mushroom clouds and atomic research conducted at the Nevada Test Site. While active nuclear testing concluded in 1992, the test site is now used for developing counterterrorism devices.