Every time I walk through airports, I notice they make many visual offerings available to travelers both sublime and ridiculous, perhaps to take the edge off the anxiety that flying from here to there and back again can bring. Flotsam and jetsam adorning walls or in plexiglass cases, displaying the local board of tourisms version of a Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum.
On one trip, I had some time to kill before braving the security line at DIA and toured some of the large wall mounted exhibits around the main terminal building. One of my favorites is a colorful map of the United States, with a picture or two in each state of some little known tourist trap or oddity.
Naturally I looked at Colorado first because I live there, then I looked at Tennessee attractions because my wife is from there, and finally I looked at South Carolina because that is the land of my birth. What I saw posted in SC wiped out any memory of what I found in Colorado, Tennessee, or any other fifty states for that matter. Apparently there is an Atomic Bomb Crater in South Carolina. Let me say that again, apparently there is an Atomic Bomb Crater in South Carolina!
I was shocked, stunned. I was aware of many facets of my home state, but never knew somebody had attempted to nuke her. Fortunately, I was armed with my smart phone and therefore the all-knowing, all-powerful internet to dispel this hoax. For surely it was a hoax perpetrated by some drunken local with too much time and a shovel on his hands. I Googled it, then I tapped on the Wikipedia entry for it, and then my jaw dropped. Here is what I found.
During the Cold War (oh to again have an enemy that we only made pouty faces at), bombers were launched from an Air Force base in Savannah on March 11, 1958, to take part in European exercises and to be on the alert in case war broke out with the Soviet Union. As one of the bombers flew over South Carolina, the captain noticed an error light on one of the bombs showing it was not properly secure. He dispatched the navigator to the bomb bay to investigate. Apparently the locking pin had not been properly latched, and as the navigator reached around the bomb to reset the pin, he inadvertently pulled the emergency release pin. When the bomb hit the deck the bomb bay doors opened and now comes good news, bad news time. Good news, the navigator was not sucked from the aircraft. Bad news, the bomb obeying the quite insistent dictates of gravity plummeted 15,000 feet down to Mars Bluff, South Carolina not too far from Florence. Good news, the fissable material was stored elsewhere on the plane. Bad news, the bomb still contained high explosives. Good news, the bomb landed on an empty playhouse in the woods and exploded leaving a seventy-five-foot crater. Bad news, three little girls, their father and brother were injured (not killed thank goodness!) by the blast. The incident made international headlines, and the family made $54,000 for pain and suffering incurred by friendly fire.
Having found this out, I discover that I am unable to set the incident aside as easily as the Gregg family and the world did. Now, I love Georgia as much as anyone. As a youth, I was taken on many pilgrimages to Atlanta to visit family. When I was older, I would drive there on my own for family and Braves baseball games. When I was fit, I would go to Georgia to run in road races in places like Atlanta, Augusta, and Tacoa. I still have two uncles, an aunt, and numerous cousins of various types in Georgia that I keep up with through the wonder that is Facebook. That being said, I believe that back in 1958 a line in the sand was crossed when Georgia dropped an Atomic weapon on her neighboring state.
The US will not tolerate a missile test in North Korea, and it spends untold amounts of money trying to curtail Iran’s weapons program in the hot and sandy Middle East. The US goes about the world trying to stop proliferation of the nuclear variety where ever it may raise its ugly head. It is intolerable that they simply shrug, dip their hands into their pockets, and are content to simply buy off the victims of state-on-state violence and then go their imperious way!
That is why I am calling for a unilateral disarmament of Georgia. More than that, I want the United Nations to send its inspectors to dismantle Georgia’s nuclear programs and arsenal. I want Hans Blix to be set up as supreme overlord until fare and free elections in Georgia can take place and this heinous act of unwarranted aggression by the Peach State can be finally and completely put behind us.
It is hard for America to justify being the world’s police force when we cannot police ourselves. It is difficult for our government to make a case for curtailing the sales of small arms, when weapons of mass destruction are indifferently handed out to whatever state desires them. And it is impossible to bring about world peace when Georgia has the bomb!