This blasted stretch of desert that witnessed the nativity of the Atomic Age now breeds the legacy of the world’s first nuclear explosion - sorrow, fear, anger, awe.
All echoed in the voices of those who trekked across the missile range to the rough black monument marking Ground Zero on Sunday to mark the 50th anniversary of The Bomb.
“I wept. I am a little troubled. I feel very sad,” said Dildar Gartenberg of Berkeley, Calif., who wore a green headband reading “Stop plutonium.”
The first atomic bomb exploded here on July 16, 1945, at 5:29:45 a.m. Mountain War Time.
Its anniversary drew a record 5,308 people to the Army base, range spokesman Larry Furrow said.
Gartenberg, struggling to rein in tears, stood apart from a cluster of fellow protesters trooping around the monument in sandals and flowing robes.
The protesters, who engaged in occasional shouting matches with other visitors, sang to heal what they called the Earth’s first “atomic wound.”
One man splashed a vial of red liquid on the monument. As authorities moved to clean it off, another protester shouted “You can’t wash the blood off. He merely made it visible.”
The sparsely vegetated circle marking the site of the blast was covered with sightseers gaping at exhibits, markers and a replica of Fat Man, the bomb dropped on Nagasaki.
Some touched the spot at the time when the bomb exploded 50 years ago. Others waited to approach in a snaking line of cars that stretched more than five miles.