The first nuclear bomb

On July 16, 1945 the first nuclear bomb was detonated. in an experiment code named ‘Trinity’, a second sun rose in the mountains of New Mexico.

“The effects could well be called unprecedented, magnificent, beautiful, stupendous and terrifying. No man-made phenomenon of such tremendous power had ever occurred before. The lightning effects beggared description. The whole country was lighted by a searing light with the intensity many times that of the midday sun.”

– Brig. Gen. Thomas Farrell

It wasn’t until the United States dropped the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, August 6 and 9, 1945, that the people of the Tularosa Basin, Jornada del Muerto and surroundings knew what happened in their own backyard.

The Trinity test was the first time these communities were exposed to the poisonous aftermath of a nuclear bomb, it wasn’t the last.

In 1951, the US started testing nuclear weapons in Nevada. A few hundred miles from the original Trinity site. Almost a thousand weapons were detonated, and the radioactive fallout from those explosions rained on communities downwind in Utah, New Mexico and all the way across the continental US.

In 2002, I joined with about 30 others to walk the route- from the first US nuclear explosion, to hopefully the last.

Over the course of two months we journeyed 1200 kilometres. Our journey began with guidance and support (and green chiles!) from elders in the San Idelfonso Pueblo in Northern New Mexico.

We sought and received permission to walk across the lands of the Dine, the Hopi, and other communities. To learn from them about their relationship to the nuclear chain.

Many stories were tragic. Exposed to the fallout from nuclear tests, or the dirty leavings of the uranium extraction industry, health crises were everywhere.

Others were hopeful. Like the man who had heard about our walk on the radio and drove miles along the roadway to share a bounty of fresh fish and frybread. Supporting our bodies, so we could be strong and carry their stories to the world.

We arrived in Nevada, in Newe Sogobia, the traditional home of the Western Shoshone two months later. With sore feet and hearts even fuller of purpose and intent, we were welcomed by elders to what was then still called the Nevada Test Site.

Our journey cemented our dedication to doing whatever we could to prevent the harm of nuclear weapons testing and development. Though we scattered across the globe after the walk, we have remained true to our shared purpose.

The Republican Trump Administration in the US is considering resuming nuclear testing again. They are redoubling efforts to restart plutonium pit manufacture, putting the same communities at risk as the Trinity test impacted 75 years ago. The tragedy of Trinity must not be forgotten, and the path for a nuclear weapons free future goes through the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear weapons.

Action for nuclear abolition takes many forms, and every action can have an impact. Whether engaging on a political level and demanding an end to risky policies that enable the possible use of nuclear weapons, or a personal level by changing to a bank that doesn’t invest in companies that build the bomb. Every action brings the opportunity to teach someone about what happened in the pursuit of nuclear weapons and encourage them to join the movement that says never again.

Today we remember how the first link in the nuclear chain was forged in Trinity 75 years ago. We remember all those whose lives and homes and way of being was destroyed in the pursuit of weapons of mass murder. We honor their memor by taking action to break these chains, forever.