In Las Vegas you can find so much more then just Casinos and Show Rooms.
You can actually find history and that is what drew my attention to the Atomic Testing Museum.
I can recall hearing a bit about bombs being tested and having to practice our duck and cover drills when the sirens went off through out the streets where I lived.
However, being a kid, I don't think I ever fully grasped what it was all about. As a child, one seems to feel like death is so far away that it doesn't really sink in. Sure, we would talk about it and some were even very scared at the though of a bomb going off, but, none of us really thought that bomb would kill any of us or anyone we knew.
So, as I walked through the museum seeing these bombs up close, it was an odd feeling for me. Like they were not real.
They were just something I read about or saw in war movies.
It was clear that even back when the threat was real, the public saw the atomic bombs as more of security feeling then a possible death machine.
There were movies, comic books, candy, games and just about everything else, that used the Atomic Bomb as a way to make a quick buck.
America felt safe. We were the World's most powerful Nation. We had the A-Bomb and no one else did. No one was going to mess with us!
Then they started to tell us that Russia also was working on making their own bombs and the fear started to set it.
Many families had Bomb Shelters built. The museum showed what one may have looked like. A tiny little room with some supplies to use while waiting for the Nuclear Fall Out to disperse.
Looking at this now, it's easy to see what a joke those shelters were. The only thing they would have really done was provided a ready made coffin for the whole family.
Seeing the actual items that were used back then didn't really seem to provoke any feelings while I was looking at them.
I did feel as if I stepped back in time and was back in school watching a science film or something.
It wasn't until the end of museum that I started to fully grasp the whole story.
There were real men who gave their lives and suffered grave injuries during the testing that took place in Las Vegas and other places.
Seeing the faces and reading the names on some of the ID cards really hit home with me.
These men watched as the bombs were tested, time and time again. They trusted that they were safe. They believed the people they worked for, our government, that they were far enough away from the test site to not be effected. They never knew what was in store for them.
I'm sure it would have been hard to not look directly at the bomb as it went off. After all, it's like going by an accident. You don't want to look, but, for some reason we can't seem to help our self as we drive by, to try and grab a glimpse.
Some were told they could wear special glasses to watch and some were far enough away that the blast was not going to blind them. So they looked. They watched, first hand as the white light came, the mushroom cloud rose above the ground and then the nuclear waste slowly spread out over a wide area.
All the while, having no idea what they were really doing. How they put themselves in harms way.
The museum has films and photos showing the destruction that just one bomb could cause.
It's really scary to think that there are now so many Countries that have this weapon of mass destruction. It's even scarier to think that one day they could actually be used against us.
As we reached the end of the museum I was thinking to myself how happy I was to know that we are no longer testing these bombs like they used to.
I know that it was because of these bombs we had during the Cold War that we remained safe. Yet, I still hate the thought of how many men still died because of them.
I was happy we were getting ready to leave. I was starting to feel emotional and sad and since I was on vacation I didn't want to feel that way.
In the last room we saw a piece of the Berlin Wall.
The Berlin Wall was another piece of History that seemed so far away from my own life. Like it happened on another world.
Yet there it was. Right in front of me. I paused to think about how many people felt trapped behind that wall. How loved ones were kept from their friends and family because of this wall of concrete.
Then the joy that was felt as they knocked it down. I remember that day. I watched it on TV and remember thinking about how I couldn't relate to what those people were going through.
I was blessed I lived in the USA.
Then as I turned around, I was hit with a big dose of reality. There it was! A reminder of the day in history I will never forget.
Parts of The World Trade Center. The twisted sheet metal piece was behind glass and almost looked like a piece of art.
Yet, it was the furtherst thing from art I will ever know. It is proof of the hatred and evil that can be found in our World.
I turned around again and as I read this sign I had a lump in my throat and thought I was going to break down in tears.
I've seen the photos and watched the News reports where the steel beams from The World Trade Center were shown.
I heard about how heavy they were and how thick the steel was. Yet, until you see it first hand, well, it's like the bombs and the Berlin Wall. It just doesn't sink in.
I walked over to the beam, touched it and said a prayer for all those who lost their lives on 9/11. I couldn't help but wonder what floor this came from and if anyone had died near it.
History is funny. We learn about it in school and see it on TV. Yet, until we actually live it we can just push it aside and be thankful our own life was not touched by it.
I think about the children that are to young to even remember 9/11 and how they will grow up hearing about it and reading about it in their history books. Yet, they will never fully understand the loss, heartache and pain that took place that day.
I don't often think about all the pain and suffering that took place in history. That is, until the past meets up with today.