Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Coalition Demands Changes In Response to Hate Crimes

Coalition Demands Changes In Response to Hate Crimes
By Laura Schreiber
Web Content

The Coalition's list of demands is available here.

A newly formed ad hoc coalition of students released a list of demands of the administration at a teach-in in Hamilton Hall Tuesday night.

The demands focus on four areas in which students involved in the group have previously expressed concern, including administrative support for diversity issues, ethnic studies, the Core Curriculum, and Columbia’s proposed Manhattanville expansion.

“The administration has yet to fulfill its avowed goals of making the long-term, institutional changes necessary in stemming the rising tide of hate incidents aimed at students of color, students of faith, LGBTQ students, and other oppressed groups,” the as-yet unnamed coalition said in its statement.

The demands include the expansion of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the appointment of a Vice Provost for Multicultural Affairs, the announcement of future hate crimes by Columbia Public Safety, and mandatory anti-oppression training for all incoming faculty and public safety.

“The OMA is grossly understaffed and housed in a space that is simply inadequate considering the scope of its responsibilities,” the statement read.

Several of the demands mirrored recommendations made in the ethnic studies report released last spring by students in the field. The group demanded that Columbia give hiring power to the Center for the Study for Ethnicity and Race and up the number of CSER faculty members.

“This program has been denied the crucial resources that it needs to sustain itself,” the statement read. “The risk of even further decline will become an even bigger threat unless the power to hire faculty and offer a full curriculum in the University is granted to the Center.”

“At all these town halls, [called in light of the recent bias incidents] people vented their frustrations and said they wanted to do something,” Christien Tompkins, CC ’08 and co-chair of the United Students of Color Council, said. “This platform is articulating in a framework that is an entry point for people to imagine a Columbia that deals with marginalization.”

The coalition also demanded that Columbia withdraw its 197-c proposal to rezone Manhattanville and submit its proposal for revision by Community Board 9. “The most basic problem with Columbia’s [expansion] plan ... is its wanton disregard for the basic principle of local democracy, something that the University’s humanistic ideals should hold as sacrosanct,” the statement read.

The group also made demands regarding the revision of the Core Curriculum, which the statement criticized as Eurocentric and a “marginalization of nonwhite peoples within the West.”
The coalition demanded the inclusion of a seminar dealing with issues of racialization and colonialism and more student voices and seats in the Committee on the Core. Students emphasized that while many of the demands were similar to those made by ad hoc coalitions Columbia Concerned Students of Color in 2004 and Stop Hate on Columbia Campus in 2006, they remain relevant since only small steps have been made in addressing them.

Bryan Mercer, CC ’07 and a member of the Student Coalition on Expansion and Gentrification, said that the coalition would focus its energies on educating the general student body about their concerns. “These demands come out of students putting their ear to the student community,” he said. “We’d like them to start a discussion with students who identify with them.”
Laura Schreiber can be reached at

View Comments ( 10)Post a Comment

Obviously, the author of this comment sees his ememies under every bed. All who see anything wrong with his values (white is right, yo!) he claims to be anti-american or communist.

So, let me get this right. If you are not white, and you have problems with white supremacism and speak up about it, you are not an american!

I hope the author keeps in touch after he goes to Iraq! I mean, is he simply going to run his mouth or is he actually going to do something about all those anti-americans?
My guess is no.
Posted by: anonymous (not verified) October 31st, 2007 @ 9:58am

White supremacy doesnt exist, which is why this list of demands is hysterical. Even if it did, the response would hardly be a groundswell of "black supremacism" which is what this list perports.

Additionally, regarding my anti-American comment, the list states the following:
"1. The reformation of the Major Cultures requirement to contain a course in a seminar format which challenges students to think critically about the issues of racialization and colonialism, global phenomena which also are at the Core of the "western" experience."
Read between the lines. America bashing at it's liberal finest.

Finally, in regards to your Iraq comment, I did serve in 1993 under your hero Bill Clinton. Not that I'm clear on why one would have to serve in Iraq in order to have an opinion on something.
I guess this means all you worthless Columbia students need to move to Cuba and enjoy communism in order to fully understand it. Hmmm I actually do like that idea..
Posted by: anonymous (not verified) October 31st, 2007 @ 10:04am

Dude, if you are dumb enough to join the Army, that explains your general personality.
I am a true patriot - I refused to go to Vietnam!
Unfortunately, there is no place left for you to go (Cuba ain't so bad for me). South Africa is now run by black people!

You will have to reach beyond the solar system to find a society that embraces your values.
Posted by: anonymous (not verified) October 31st, 2007 @ 10:11am

"It isn't that Liberals are ignorant. It's just that they know so much that isn't so."
Posted by: Reagan October 31st, 2007 @ 10:35am

Can you name the 2-3 things that neocons know?
I just never had time to jot them down.
Posted by: anonymous (not verified) October 31st, 2007 @ 10:45am

I would name them for you but your response would be:
1.) that's racist2.) that's not fair3.) that's racist4.) that's greedy5.) that's racist
Posted by: Reagan October 31st, 2007 @ 10:51am

Yo, that's 5 things. Wonderful progress over 250 years!
Admit it. You went to college, didn't you. It shows!
Posted by: anonymous (not verified) October 31st, 2007 @ 11:00am

But see...that's the difference. Liberals define "progress" by how much Government does for them. Conservatives define "progress" by how much people do for themselves. The former are incapable of managing their lives and need caretakers...the latter are self sufficient and desire less outside intervention.

Posted by: anonymous (not verified) October 31st, 2007 @ 8:18pm

"... In Response to Hate Crimes"?

Doesn't journalistic orthodoxy still require the word "ALLEGED" in front of criminal allegations? Has a perp been identified? No?

Then why does CS's journalistic jurisprudence accept an "ad hoc" lynch mob skipping any investigation, indictment or trial and applying their street verdict? Is the institution guilty (prima facae) without trial? Since when are the demands of ad hoc vigilantees reported as news?

The truth is that this case has all the classic modus operandi of a hate hoax. Faked hate crimes are now becoming routine in the years since the Tawana Brawley hoax. The lesson-- already forgotten from the Duke lacrosse case-- is that minorities are perfectly willing and capable of stringing up nooses, too.

Is anyone else tired of this racial extortion racket?
Posted by: anonymous (not verified) October 31st, 2007 @ 9:08am

This is absolutely hysterical. "A list of demands". How about you guys let the school administration do the job they were hired, and qualified, to do; and you guys hit the books and get 8 hours of sleep every night.

Also, aside from the usual laundry list of anti-white studies, one of the demands was this:
"1. The reformation of the Major Cultures requirement to contain a course in a seminar format which challenges students to think critically about the issues of racialization and colonialism, global phenomena which also are at the Core of the "western" experience."

In other words they want to promote anti-Americanism, and probably promote communism as a "core" curriculum.

Posted by: anonymous (not verified) October 31st, 2007 @ 7:26am

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Five Iraq War Veterans On Their Return To American Life

October 29, 2007, 10:06 pm
Same Old Song and Dance
By Jeffrey D. Barnett

One interesting difference between the Marine Corps and civilian life is job turnover. In the military every job at every unit has a new person filling it on a cycle that lasts anywhere from six months to three years. The commanding officer of a unit usually has command for two years. Company grade officers and staff non-commissioned officers usually change jobs within the unit every 12 to 18 months, and some field grade officers may serve an entire three-year tour in the same job before transferring units. The intent is to create marines that are well-rounded, have experienced a variety of responsibilities, and are ready to tackle a myriad of tasks.

Furthermore, if you don’t like the way things are running, just wait a while — they’ll change. You may not like the way they change, but you can be assured that new personalities will come and bring their own way of doing things.

This sharply contrasts the civilian world where the same person may fill a job for decades. The largest advantage of this approach is that it can create a true subject-matter expert — at least an expert in that particular job. The biggest disadvantage is that issues requiring change may be unlikely to do so if the person filling the job is not inclined to change them.

I think the idea of elected officials was initially designed similarly to the military approach of a rotating duty, but has since transitioned to promoting career politicians. I don’t think our founding fathers envisioned lifetime politicians as a part of American government. I thought the entire point of recurring elections was to usher new people into office who have recently been living and operating in the legal and economic world created by their predecessors. Such people bring a fresh perspective about how government policies are affecting citizens. But with no term limits for members of Congress, they face a pretty high bar for election.

The best way to make circumspect decisions about public policy is to live and breathe inside that policy and be subject to it for your livelihood. What should we expect of congressmen who have held office for 20, 30, 40, or even 50 years? More of the same, I’d say…and that’s exactly what we’ve been getting.

One way to combat this is to make serving in political office less financially attractive. Right now the base salary for a member of congress is over $165,000 per year. The median household income in the United States is slightly less than $50,000 per year. That is a large disparity. Now I agree that’s not a one-to-one comparison. First, Washington D.C. has a much higher cost of living than most U.S. cities. Second, I am certainly not a proponent of class warfare, and I think that people who hold difficult or demanding jobs should make more money than those with less skilled or demanding jobs. However, even with those two mitigating factors I think the difference between the above two numbers leans towards treating politicians as royalty and not public servants. The point is if you make the job less attractive financially, only those who really care will want to fill it, and all Americans will reap the benefits.

On the bright side, as recently as 2004 we’ve seen some congressmen with almost 20-year tenures ousted because they no longer represented their electorate accurately, so perhaps there is hope. Additionally, I am anxious to see in 2008 whether some states decide that congressmen with almost 40-year tenures may not be best equipped to make decisions on the increasingly important issue of net neutrality.

There seems to be another thing keeping new people and fresh minds out of Congress: who invented the ridiculous idea that if you have never been in politics that you aren’t qualified to hold political office? Unlike many politicians, I have read the Constitution, and I didn’t find that in there. I’m pretty sure the rules generally revolve around your age, how long you’ve been a U.S. citizen, and where you live. I did not, for instance, find the following,
“No person shall be a representative/senator/president without having first waded in the cesspool of Washington politics in a lesser capacity for no fewer than 10 years, and furthermore he must show evidence he has completely drunk the Kool-Aid and poses no real threat of upsetting the status quo.”

It’s not in there. I checked. Unfortunately, I often see media personalities and candidates for election critiquing their opponents on grounds that they don’t have the required experience.

Should there be unspoken requirements to hold office beyond solid leadership, principled judgment, and sound decision-making skills? I don’t think so. I think America would do itself a great favor by shrugging off these notions and start electing people who don’t know politics, people who haven’t been infected with the sickness of voting every issue along partisan lines so they won’t be ostracized.

It doesn’t take a subject matter expert on an issue to make a sound decision about that issue. Sure, the decision-maker should be advised by subject matter experts, but I am convinced that making the right decisions has little to do with “knowing the system” and everything to do with integrity. An assistant can explain “the system” but you can’t explain principled decision-making to an elected official who doesn’t understand.

America needs elected officials who care about the people they represent — not politicians who don’t wish to upset their party and who vote on issues based upon their impacts on reelection.

Changing our current predicament will require people that are unwilling to comply with “the way things have always been done.” Either a crop of new faces will be needed or America may have to wait until an entire generation passes before new ideas impact Washington.
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October 26, 2007, 4:42 pm
To Hell and Back With a Smile
By Michael Jernigan

Let me set a scene for you. The time is the middle of the afternoon and the place is Falluja, Iraq, in April of 2004. I am laying face down in a shallow irrigation ditch on the side of a dirt road. There is a lot of noise. The kind that can only be known in war. It is multiple medium-weight machine guns raining the terror of lead. I am looking around and seeing my friends in the same predicament. I also see dirt popping up inches from my face and body. This does not come from just anywhere. The dirt is flying into the air because there are 7.62-millimeter bullets landing everywhere. Was I scared? You bet your sweet life I was. This is when I realized that I was going to die. Not when I was old or even back home in St. Petersburg. I was going to die on a dirt road in a place that if it is not hell they share the same zip code. There was nothing I could do but wait. I lit a cigarette and threw my pack of Newports behind me so my buddy Murph-dog could enjoy his last smoke, too.

Fast forward to October of 2007, I sit in the living room of my fifth floor apartment in Alexandria, Va. I am watching the television. I can not see the screen. Which is a shame because it is a flat panel, flat screen, high definition television. I have always enjoyed the newest in technology and do not see why I should stop now. I am waiting for my girlfriend to call after she puts her son to bed. I can not stop laughing because the program I am watching is just that funny. How did I get here and why am I so content with how everything worked out?
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October 24, 2007, 7:22 pm
Verses in Wartime (Part 2: From the Home Front)
By Brian Turner

In my last post, “Verses in Wartime (Part. 1: In-Country),” I shared some of the poems I wrote while deployed to Iraq as an infantry team leader. These were poems written in journals, usually late at night or in the predawn darkness, with a red-lensed flashlight illuminating the page (so as not to wake nearby soldiers racked out after completing our missions).

The poems I’d like to share today were written this month, specifically for this Home Fires installment, and they will surely go through several more drafts before I might consider them for a future collection, or book. I’d like to invite readers of this blog into that process.

When my book, “Here, Bullet,” was published, I told myself I would not write another book about war. I wanted instead to focus on expanding my own possibilities on the page. Then, my old unit returned to Iraq for what turned out to be a 15-month deployment. They sent e-mails detailing some of the situations they faced. Things began switching from the past tense to the present tense. This war felt as if it were surfacing in my everyday life. I was slow to recognize it at first. And at the same time, many of the poems I was writing didn’t seem to connect to my own interior life and the life I’ve been living, here in America.
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October 22, 2007, 8:48 pm
Mortality Strikes
By Lee Kelley

Most of us have thought about and feared our own deaths at some time or another, and many have faced it head on. My time in Iraq taught me a lot about the fragility of human life, and it served to remind me just how brittle these bones can be. Perhaps it’s a lesson I needed to learn. I remember standing on a rooftop in the dark two years ago, working on a satellite dish, when four mortars exploded in a nearby field, filling the impenetrable night with blazing orange light and furious sound. And now, after sixteen months home, the powers that be have utilized a boulder to deliver a similar message.

I left work a couple of weeks ago and was driving down a familiar road. I was watching everything, but I was on auto-pilot, scanning the events of the day in my head, planning the things I still had to do that night: pick up the kids, make dinner, give the kids a bath, try to get them to bed by 8:30 so I can have an hour or two in front of the computer, call my sister back.
It was five o’clock, and there were a lot of vehicles out. And all the other drivers were no doubt as caught up in the drama of their own lives as I was, missing each other’s bumpers by mere feet as they sped past at more than 50 miles per hour. I was doing 60. It was a narrow road, and there were a few 18-wheelers coming from the other direction.
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October 20, 2007, 8:47 pm
Way Beyond Pong
By Jeffrey D. Barnett

I have had many hobbies throughout my life. Many have come and gone, but one has persisted before, during, and after my experience in the Marine Corps: gaming. In addition to being an engineer, new homeowner, and seasoned curmudgeon, I also moonlight as a gamer.

I started gaming almost as soon as I could hold a controller. My father purchased an Atari 2600 in 1981, the year I was born. Video games were a real novelty then and he enjoyed playing Pong and Football on the system. When I was old enough to understand the concept of the game and capable of using a joystick, I began playing Pong with him. In the years that followed I developed an affection for several games, most notably Pac-Man and what would become my favorite Atari 2600 game: Donkey Kong.

In the late 80s he purchased a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) for me. I spent countless hours with Mario, Excitebike, Duckhunt, and Mike Tyson’s Earlobe Assault Punchout. I specifically remember having a spiral-bound notebook where I kept up with my high scores in Duckhunt. Through the years I moved on to new and better systems like the Sega Genesis and Sega CD. In late high school and early college I flirted with the Sony Playstation and PS2.

However, it was the release of the Microsoft Xbox and Halo in 2001 that resurrected my interest in gaming as an adult and provided the genesis for the hobby I have today.
Read more … Link
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October 18, 2007, 10:39 pm
Radio Interview With Sandi Austin and Michael Jernigan
By editors

Two Home Fires writers, Sandi Austin and Michael Jernigan, appeared today on “Talk of the Nation,” a show on National Public Radio, along with The Times’s editorial page editor, Andy Rosenthal. The show featured calls from other veterans, and one from Tracey Willis, Mike’s mother, who called to express her admiration and wish him a happy birthday.
You can listen to the entire show — here.
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October 16, 2007, 9:27 pm
Freedom Is Not Free
By Sandi Austin
At times I miss the feeling of being totally free — the natural high I felt from the moment we landed in Ft. Bragg after 18 months of activation and 11 months in Iraq, when my feet finally touched American soil. For at least a year after that, I was walking on a cloud. The everyday stress of life didn’t seem to exist. I felt completely free.

But then, slowly, the drama of everyday living started to slip back in. Now, when I begin to feel stressed or that I am missing out on something, I often flip through the pages of my journal and am reminded of how minor today’s worries and complaints are. There are certain entries that take me back to moments of fear, insecurity and frustration. I have turned these memories into a source of appreciation for the life I have now.

The following is a single journal entry recorded on June 24, 2004, slightly edited for this page.

The events and emotions were recorded about an hour and a half after the actual explosions from my office at Mosul City Hall. All conversations with the Iraqis were documented as we were speaking. The photographs accompanying the entry were taken from my camera, as well as the camera of a fellow soldier from the 445th Civil Affairs Battalion the day of the attack.
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October 11, 2007, 8:54 pm
Driving Blind
By Michael Jernigan
Greetings, everyone, from the Commonwealth of Virginia. I want to let everyone know that I am doing well in school so far. That college has kept me very busy. But I must declare that no academic workload can conquer Mike Jernigan. I am the new and improved version, outfitted for night operations.

All that school hasn’t stopped me from enjoying my weekends either. And I recently had one that would make any car enthusiast’s head spin.

I was lucky enough to attend a recent Ferrari show in Richmond, Va., with my girfriend’s son, Caleb. I wanted to show him some beautiful Italian engineering. A gentleman at the show who recognized me from my appearance in the HBO film, “Alive Day Memories,” approached me and thanked me for my service. We had a pleasant chat for a few minutes and then parted ways. The man’s name was Luke: he sells medical surgery equipment.

I have always loved Ferraris. Not long ago, I was very close to buying a 1989 328 GTS, but erred on the side of wisdom and did not. I thought to myself, What would a blind guy do with a Ferrari? After this weekend I now know.
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October 9, 2007, 6:07 pm
A Significant Emotional Event
By Lee Kelley

A lot of us like to travel, and many travel due to their occupations. Some folks seem to enjoy the constant adjustment to new time zones. Others do not roam the earth at all. But of all professions, I think that the military path is the one that tends to quickly (and repeatedly) remove people from the comfort of their lives and land them in an alternate reality.

People join the military for a variety of reasons, and we are a unique group who come from all walks of life and every town in America. We stand before the American flag, raise our right hand, and then take an oath to defend something other than ourselves and our families. We are aware of the time honored tradition of our oath. We “swear in” knowing we may have to miss Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, and more. We train for combat, for the sustained management of chaos, and ultimately to represent our country in combat. And yet we know we cannot pick and choose the location of the fighting.
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October 7, 2007, 8:22 pm
Verses in Wartime (Part 1: In-Country)
By Brian Turner
For anyone out there who might hear the word “poetry” and cringe, or having just read the word here, immediately look to click to some other article, silently cursing this guy Turner for not sticking with the Home Fires mission — don’t worry: I am going to be writing about my time in Iraq, where I served as an infantry team leader. But Iraq is also the place where I wrote my first book of poetry — “Here, Bullet” — during my unit’s deployment there. (It was published by Alice James Books.) So today I want to look back and talk about some of the things that went on in my head then, not only fighting, but observing, witnessing and writing. Poetry.

I believe in the saying, Poetry finishes in the reader. I can (and will) tell you about some of the things I wrote in-country, there in the sand, or what was going on in my head at the time (I use my journals from back then to help refresh my memory). But in the end, I truly believe you’ll take it with a grain of salt and decide for yourself what the poem itself is all about.
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October 5, 2007, 9:03 pm
Family Duty
By Sandi Austin
Illustrations by Snindee Garcia.

From the very beginning I have said to myself “I’m going to be good at this. If I could get through 11 months in Iraq, pregnancy and delivery should be a breeze; painful I’m sure, but at least nothing will be blowing up around me!” I just reached the half-way point, 20 weeks down, 20 weeks to go. The first trimester was easy; somehow I bypassed all of the negative symptoms spewed throughout the first three chapters of every pregnancy book. I continue to laugh at the “Whoaaa, Dairy Queen” and “Moooo-ve over” jokes. Even the food and beverage restrictions, weight gain, emotional breakdowns and fatigue haven’t been too bad. What I have been struggling with is the fact that I have to go back to work three months after the baby is born. I imagine that will be more emotionally taxing than getting on the C-130 to Iraq.

As I lugged the ruck sack onto the plane back in 2003, I was leaving my family and friends, who of course enjoy my company, but can survive without seeing me for awhile. This time I will be lugging a diaper bag and leaving, although only for eight hours a day, an infant who depends completely on me for its survival. Two questions continuously roll through my head: “What happened to the stay-at-home mom, the June Cleavers of the world?” and “What happened to the importance of raising your child within your own home?” I know the answer to that is very complex – the political, social and economic factors that created the dual-income household that so many people maintain today.
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October 2, 2007, 6:39 pm
Missing You
By Jeffrey D. Barnett

Not surprisingly, there are many distinct differences between civilian life and the Marine Corps. Some have been welcome, but others bittersweet. Let’s jump right into what I miss about being an active duty marine.

Clearly defined job responsibilities. As a Marine officer I knew exactly what I was responsible for on a daily basis and the scope of each responsibility. I also knew that certain billets (jobs) in my unit were responsible for certain functions. If I needed to make a logistics request I would submit it through the company gunnery sergeant who would then submit it to the battalion’s logistics chief. The company gunny and the log chief were also the same rank, making this an example of “lateral coordination,” a prime concept of Marine Corps administration. Working laterally ensures that both parties get the best result for the group, as a more senior marine might bulldog a junior marine if any compromises were involved in the request. Furthermore, it ensures that the marine only receives direct orders from his chain of command, not from outsiders who may not see the bigger picture.
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September 30, 2007, 4:24 pm
My Red Carpet Month
By Michael Jernigan

Hello everyone, how are we doing today? I have been even busier than usual. On September 5, I went to Washington, D.C., for the screening of the HBO documentary I was in. The film is titled “Alive Day Memories: Home From Iraq.” The executive producer and interviewer was James Gandolfini. (Most of you know him as Tony Soprano). I was interviewed for this film back in November of 2006 in New York City.

We had a great time at the screening. I had my friends and family that live in the D.C. area with me. There was also a top-notch guest list. In the elevator on our way in we ran into Joe Galloway, a co-author of a book titled “We Were Soldiers Once… and Young.” I am not even in the building and I am already meeting a person who I have respected for many years! Some of you may know that this book was turned into a film — “We Were Soldiers” — starring Mel Gibson and Sam Elliott. (By the way, Sam Elliott plays the best crusty old sergeant major I have ever seen.)

There was a cocktail party before the screening of the film where I had my picture taken more than anyone can imagine. James Gandolfini was in attendance and I was excited because I got to introduce him to my girlfriend, Leslie. After the cocktail party we got to see the film. This was the first time my family and I got to see it. I do not know if any of you have seen the film but it is very emotional. It has no political slant to the left or the right. It tells the stories of 10 veterans, their injuries and the troubles all of us coming home wounded have to face.
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September 27, 2007, 3:49 pm
Vast Human Enterprise
By Lee Kelley

When I think about war, and any vast human enterprise, I like to picture all of the human beings as electric-blue skeletons, as if I were seeing everything with x-ray vision. It reminds me that we are but animals, and makes it easier for me to comprehend what we are capable of as a species. Stone and spear have evolved into G.P.S. guided missiles. The abacus into the notebook computer. Every day more than 350,000 human skeletons are born on our little planet. And of the six and a half billion human beings alive right now, about 150,000 of them die each day from a variety of causes. But such mortality is not enough for us.

Some 15 months after returning home from Iraq, I feel absolutely dwarfed by the amount of money, equipment, and people we have pushed toward this effort. And though I am a die-hard optimist, I can’t perceive significant improvement, at least with regard to our ability to withdraw our forces. While this saddens me, it doesn’t surprise me in the least.

In some ways, the process of fighting the war on the ground was simpler than trying to figure it all out at home. Sometimes I think back to the night I crossed the border from Kuwait to Iraq.

It was dark and difficult to see people’s eyes. No need. I knew what I would find there, and it was a mirror. It was a time for determined action because there were people who seriously wanted to kill us. It did not feel like a peacekeeping mission because it wasn’t. We were there to fight and we knew it. The pure adrenaline-fueled truth of the moment was simple: Remember the rules of engagement, and protect coalition forces at all costs. I was entering the fray, and I would eat, sleep, and breathe it for the next year.
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September 25, 2007, 8:53 pm
A Timely Obsession
By Sandi Austin
Illustrations by Sindee Garcia.

As I sit in my 9-by-9-foot cube on Cannery Row with my back to the gorgeous Monterey Bay, I open Outlook Office to view my calendar. Before me I see a list of scheduled tasks and meetings. It’s a pretty light day: four meetings, a lunch scheduled with a friend, and an appointment to get my oil changed after work. Suddenly an Outlook reminder intrudes on my desktop to tell me that I have a meeting in 15 minutes. Better print the agenda, get my water and head to the meeting — can’t be late. A memory stirs and suddenly I hear the the governor of Iraq’s Ninevah province saying, “Insha’Allah, I will be at your meeting.”

“Insha’Allah” literally means “God willing,” but from what I experienced working with the Ninevah Provincial Council, the phrase has myriad connotations: relax, don’t worry, no need to stress, or don’t rush. Saying insha’Allah in some ways is a “get out of jail free” card. The phrase allows you (on a high level) to take the pressure off yourself to do anything or get anywhere.

If you are invited to a dinner, a meeting, or a movie you’ve already seen, you can simply say, “Insha’Allah, I’ll be there” and it’s O.K. if you don’t make it. It took about a month working with Iraqi citizens before I finally grasped the concept of insha’Allah.Read more …

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About the Authors
Home Fires Returns

Sandi Austin spent 11 months in Iraq as a sergeant with the 445th Civil Affairs Battalion, in Samarra and later Mosul. For most of her tour, she worked as a liaison to the governor of Nineveh Province. She returned to her home in Monterey, Calif., in October 2004.

Jeffrey D. Barnett wrote for the column Frontlines during his 2006 deployment to Falluja in support of First Radio Battalion from Camp Pendleton, Calif. He completed his active military service on June 1, and has started a new job in his hometown of Huntsville, Ala. He is the author of the blog The Midnight Hour.

Michael Jernigan served with Easy Company, Second Battalion, Second Marine Regiment during the summer of 2004 in Mahmudiya, Zadon, and Falluja. On August 22, he was severely injured and blinded by a roadside bomb. He was medically retired from the Marine Corps in December of 2005. He lives in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Lee Kelley wrote for the TimesSelect column Frontlines in 2006 during his deployment as an Army signal officer in Al Anbar Province, where he maintained the blog, Wordsmith at War. He has been a frequent contributor to Doonesbury's "The Sandbox," and lives in Salt Lake City with his two children, where he is working on a non-fiction book about his experiences in Iraq.

Brian Turner is a poet who has served seven years in the Army, most recently in 2004 as an infantry team leader in Mosul with the Third Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Second Infantry Division. His book of poems, "Here, Bullet," won the 2005 Beatrice Hawley Award and was a New York Times Editor's Choice selection. He lives in Fresno, Calif, where he teaches poetry at Fresno State.

VA Bans Religious Flag Ceremony


VA Bans Religious Flag Ceremony
Virginian-Pilot October 29, 2007

The Department of Veterans Affairs has told administrators of its 125 veterans cemeteries not to participate in a religion-laced recitation that sometimes accompanies the folding of the American flag at funerals.

The ban reportedly has outraged veterans' groups in California, where it came to light.

The administrator of the VA cemetery in Hampton said the recitation, which purports to describe the significance of each of the 13 folds of the flag, has never been part of ceremonies there.

"I had never heard of it until we got the instruction" from Washington to stop the recitation, said H.D. Hardamon, who runs the Hampton cemetery.

The recitation also is not part of funerals at the state-run Albert G. Horton Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery in Suffolk, said Dan Kemano, the cemetery's superintendent.

Kemano said he's heard the recitation at some private funeral services, but "we don't have it on our program."

He said about 500 funerals per year are conducted at the Suffolk cemetery and no one has asked for the flag recitation.

Slightly differing versions of the recitation appear on a variety of patriotic and military-oriented Web sites. Typically, it describes the first fold of the flag as a "symbol of life" and the second as a "symbol of our belief in eternal life."

Other folds are said to pay tribute to "womanhood," and "father." The 11th fold is said to glorify "the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob" in the eyes of Jewish Americans and the 12th glorifies "God the Father, the Son and Holy Ghost" to Christians.

Phil Budahn, a spokesman for the VA in Washington, said the agency received an objection to the script's religious references after it was used during a funeral at Riverside National Cemetery in California.

"It seemed inappropriate for federal employees to be the ones who actually read it," Budahn said, so the VA sent word last month to cemetery directors warning them against doing so.

The agency has does not object if families wish to choose a relative or friend of the deceased veteran to read the script as the flag is being folded, Budahn said.

The VA agrees that religious observances are an important part of a funeral service, he said. "It's just a question of who does them."

The Air Force in 2005 issued an approved but optional script without religious references for flag-folding ceremonies. The script is not used at funerals conducted by the Air Force, however; the flag is folded in silence at those services.

The approved Air Force script refers to the flag as "the symbol of our nation's unity, as well as a source of pride and inspiration for millions of citizens."

Dale Eisman, (703) 913-9872,

Flag Folds

These meanings, not part of the U.S. Flag Code, have been ascribed to the 13 folds of American flags at burial services for some veterans:
1. Symbol of life.

2. Symbol of our belief in the eternal life.

3. In honor and remembrance of the veteran departing our ranks who gave a portion of life for the defense of our country to attain a peace throughout the world.

4. Represents our weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to him we turn in times of peace as well as in times of war for his guidance.

5. A tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, "Our country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong."

6. Represents where our hearts lie. It is with our hearts that we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

7. A tribute to our armed forces.

8. A tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor mother, for whom it flies on Mother's Day.

9. A tribute to womanhood.

10. A tribute to father.

11. In the eyes of Hebrew citizens, represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon, and glorifies, in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

12. In the eyes of Christian citizens, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Ghost.

13. When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, "In God We Trust."

How do you feel about this issue?Let your public officials know how you feel.,13319,155003,00.html?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Bar none

Bar none
October 30, 2007 Kit Up!

Submitted by Eric Daniel

To me, knives are tools. They are to be used and abused, to accomplish the mission or die trying. I’ve been through several multi-tools (on average I break one a year) and pocket knives come and go (they get loaned out, lost, or break) but the one knife I have always had unwavering faith in (up until the time I had to quit using it) was the Ka-Bar USMC fighting knife.

As I mentioned in a previous post, a good utility knife is indispensable in the field. Pocketknives like the Buck 110 are great for light work, but sometimes you need something with leverage.

Whether it was cutting open MRE cases or prying the wire off of crated ammunition, my Ka Bar took it all in stride. In a perfect world a bayonet would have done just as well for most things, had I been able to draw one from the arms room when we went to the field, but sadly this was not the case, which made the Ka-Bar all the more valuable. Moreover, the Ka Bar’s design alone made it superior to the bayonet. The all-leather grip worked wonderfully wet or dry, hot or cold. The blade was thick enough that you could pry with either the point or the flat without undue fear of it snapping, and the big steel endcap, combined with the knife’s own mass, made for a fair field expedient hammer.

It didn’t bother me in the least that I was in the Army and I was using a Marine Corps knife. That Ka-Bar was a tool, and one I deemed best available to do the jobs I needed doing. I reasoned that since the Marine Corps used the same rifles, ammunition, artillery and armor that the Army did, it was perfectly acceptable to use “their” knife.

Silly me. Eventually, someone vastly more knowledgeable in trans-service etiquette than I explained to me the magnitude of the military faux pas I was committing. No, it simply would not do to be caught out of doors with such an icon of Marine Corps tradition prominently displayed on my LBE. As a Soldier and an NCO, I should have known better. Need to bust open those crates of MG ammunition? No problem – smash them on the ground or kick them, or use a stick (a good NCO always carries a good stick with them for just such a situation.) The bottom line was that Ka-Bar was a Marine Corps “thing” and it simply had to go. No amount of pleading, reasoning, or rationalizing could resolve the situation. I just had to learn to do without.
Of course, ten years later I’m back to carrying a non-issue “fighting” knife, but now it’s made in Nepal, not Olean, N.Y. so I guess that makes it ok…

Get your Ka-Bar here.

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Posted by: AUGUST M. BOYD, JR October 30, 2007 at 01:43 PM

I still have one from 1990. I would not choose another knife. Ive used it to dig, hammer, cut, saw etc and it never fails. There is a reason why most people think of KaBars when you talk about historic fighting knives.
Posted by: LMaines October 30, 2007 at 06:09 PM

In my old Army Engineer batalion during the 1980’s at the height of the Cold War our CO allowed us to carry any knife on our LBE as long as it was military. I carried a KaBar for a while as well as a Fairbairn-Sykes. I still have both and would not trade them for anything.. well all most anything.
Posted by: Eric October 30, 2007 at 07:17 PM

Posted by: JAMES SCOTT October 31, 2007 at 01:05 AM

I'm still using mine from 1967 when I got it in Vietnam
Posted by: AndyJ October 31, 2007 at 03:54 AM

Genetics and bad ears have seen to it that Ill never be in the military, but I acquired a KaBar shortly before I started working as a summer camp counselor one year. Decent blades were necessary, especially on overnights. Yet one fellow counselor laughed and asked me "What do you need a KaBar for?"Plenty of things. The next summer he asked me if I still had it. Of course.
Posted by: SandieK October 31, 2007 at 07:00 AM
I still have one I got in 1966 in DaNang. Traded for it with the Seabees. Now my son carries one I picked up in 1968 while he's stationed in Iraq. Fine tool, filling a number of roles. One can find them made by Camillus, NY and the originals from "Cutco" in Olean, NY. There's a lot of fakes out there but if you can, stick with the originals. Much better quality. It's not a pocket knife!
Posted by: Pappy Patchin October 31, 2007 at 10:52 AM

Not a knife anywhere equals it for the money. Tough, sharp, easy to sharpen, holds an edge and is fast in the hand.
Posted by: jimmy johnson October 31, 2007 at 11:39 AM

Just used my 22 yr old KaBar cutting Halloween displays at my sons' school. Keep in my driver's door map pocket. It served me well doing drug enforcement boardings in the Caribbean during the 80's. It's been a loyal tool for all these years. Everyman should have one.
Posted by: Richard Bruce October 31, 2007 at 12:40 PM

I still have my from 1974. Its been at my side for 30 years in the military, I retired May 23, 2005. It will be given to my son.
Posted by: David Sletten October 31, 2007 at 03:38 PM

This is the BEST knife in the WORLD by far like Richard Bruce said, Every man should have one best thing you'll ever buy!!!
Posted by: Oorah November 01, 2007 at 07:42 PM

Ka-Bar makes the same knife with other branches logo's on them so you won't have to worry about being looked down upon for using "thier" knife anymore.
Posted by: vsixtour November 01, 2007 at 10:04 PM

ka bar none one of the best
Posted by: hank hill November 03, 2007 at 09:53 PM

I think i may just make a Ka-Bar my next knife. Thank you Kit up.
Posted by: RJB1012 November 05, 2007 at 07:27 PM

The KaBar is one of the greatest knives ever made. I used a poket knife for the little things and everything else was done with a KaBar. KaBar was origonaly made for the Marines, but all branches of the Military, Coast Gaurd included, and some civilian groups fell in love with them. It was suggested to me by several of the Senior Rangers that I should purchase one, and I did. I woul still have it today, but I gave it to a my step brother who is a Boy Scout and needed a good knife. Its a knife, if it bothers you that it a Marine thing, then get one with a brange logo on it. SGT Azevedo US Army (Retired)
Posted by: Tony Azevedo November 09, 2007 at 11:29 AM

I got my 1st K-Bar in 58 in the Cub Scouts. Used it since then world wide. That and the EK bowie are tools you can bet your life on. YMMV but that's what this old air-dog thinks.
Posted by: Tony von Krag November 11, 2007 at 12:47 PM

My father worked at Camillus Cutlery in Camillus, NY (just west of Syracuse)for 50 years. The K-Bar was made there for a very long time. Sadly, Camillus Culery just closed their doors for good. I guess it's better to get our knives from China. Sad...
Posted by: Tom Werth November 13, 2007 at 06:45 AM

As an NCO in a Tactical Military Intelligence Unit in the Army, we were in the field 9 months out of the year. My K-Bar went with me and I couldn't fathom going to the field without it. Our BDE CSM was inspecting our field gear before a deployment and once he saw my K-Bar on my LBE talked at length about how his K-Bar save his life in the knife earned another use...CSM distraction.
Posted by: Brandon November 13, 2007 at 06:53 AM

It seems funny that Army personnel get so twisted up about this when the commemorative knife that is flying off shelves at the PX is the US Army OIF K-Bar!
I have two. One commemorative and one kick ass utilitool, fighting instrument, fear inducing, much admired, knicked and dinged USMC K-Bar that I acquired when I came over here.
Posted by: flythemig29 November 13, 2007 at 10:51 PM

K-Bar makes an Army Fighting Knife.
Posted by: James Wisegarver November 13, 2007 at 11:16 PM

I have taught wilderness survival at college level for years and do not do so without my K-bar at my belt or in my boot sheath. Thanks K-bar for the real thing.
Posted by: Bobby Rexroad November 13, 2007 at 11:55 PM

I remember being issued a Kabar in BUDS and teaching my roommates how to put a ridiculous edge on it. I was amazed at how well it kept its edge, and what a close shave I could get with it!
I remember bluing the edge after sharpening to kill any reflective characteristics it might have; you can't risk giving away your positiion after all!
Posted by: Bob Hunter November 14, 2007 at 02:23 AM

The best utility knife "EVER" made. I still have and use mine from my years in the USMC from the 70's. I have pried, chopped, hammered, sliced, skinned, cut and killed with it. There ARE no substitutes.
Posted by: Patrick O'Brien November 14, 2007 at 04:07 AM

As a navy SEAL trainee in the mid 70's, the K-Bar and I became best friends along with my swim buddie. The K-Bar was carried by navy SEALs in the Vietnam War. It is also a great throwing knife. The "Rusty K-Bar" is a killing machine.
Posted by: donniez udt 91 November 14, 2007 at 05:00 AM

Where can I purchase one of these knives on Long Island N.Y.?
Posted by: mike buonaiuto November 14, 2007 at 05:05 AM

I "appropriated" my KaBar in 1967 from a Marine at Camp Eagle, home of the 101st Airborne, out side of Phu Bai, RVN after an inter service brawl in the bunker line brought on by traditional GI bad mouthing. That knife kept me alive on many occasions over the next 18 months and I still carry it with me whenever I go into the field. Two years ago I even had occasion to try to defend myself against a griz high up in Montana's Bitterroot Mountains - Thank God the Griz decided to give me a break on that day - I'm sure the knife skills I learned in Vietnam have left me over the years, so good deal I didn't have to relearn them as OJT.
Posted by: Jerry Leone November 14, 2007 at 06:05 AM

Ex Khe San & CAG Unit Vietnam Marine, have given K-Bars to every new GI that I know, including 3 of my sons, 1 Marine, 1 Navy, 1 Army. I want them to survive as well.
Posted by: Steve Nowak November 14, 2007 at 06:31 AM

Posted by: ZIVA NEW YORK, NEW YORK November 14, 2007 at 06:34 AM

I received a Ka-Bar as a memento from a Marine buddy while in VN back in 1967 (we were advisors in IV CTZ but I was Army). I've used that knife to field dress a deer and a wild pig on two hunting trips until I bought a set of meat processing knives and saws. When I got afield with my bow, hunting or roving, I always have that Ka-Bar with me either on my belt or in my pack.
Posted by: MRFranks November 14, 2007 at 06:47 AM

I received a Ka-Bar as a memento from a Marine buddy while in VN back in 1967 (we were advisors in IV CTZ but I was Army). I've used that knife to field dress a deer and a wild pig on two hunting trips until I bought a set of meat processing knives and saws. When I got afield with my bow, hunting or roving, I always have that Ka-Bar with me either on my belt or in my pack.
Posted by: MRFranks November 14, 2007 at 06:48 AM

I received a Ka-Bar as a memento from a Marine buddy while in VN back in 1967 (we were advisors in IV CTZ but I was Army). I've used that knife to field dress a deer and a wild pig on two hunting trips until I bought a set of meat processing knives and saws. When I go afield with my bow, hunting or roving, I always have that Ka-Bar with me either on my belt or in my pack.
Posted by: MRFranks November 14, 2007 at 06:49 AM
Posted by: MRFranks November 14, 2007 at 06:49 AM

Received my first Ka-Bar knife in boy scouts from retired air force instructor. It went with me in the USMC and I still have it. Found none better.
Posted by: frank kaicy November 14, 2007 at 07:16 AM

I bought my Ka-Bar at a surplus store in 1945 at the ripe old age of eight. I paid a dollar for it because the tip was broken. I still have itin the original sheath and use it daily. Finest tool I ever owned.
Posted by: Ted Williams November 14, 2007 at 07:41 AM
Bought my Ka-bar In 81 while in the Army and also a Buck 105 Pathfinder, both served me so well I still have both !The Ka-Bar is Hands down the best and strongest utility Knife for hard use! My Platoon Sgt. A Vietnam vet, never batted an eye on my wearing it on my LBE . Only had 1 plt. sgt in 8 yrs.who
Posted by: Patrick Champagne November 14, 2007 at 07:41 AM

Bought my Ka-bar In 81 while in the Army and also a Buck 105 Pathfinder, both served me so well I still have both !The Ka-Bar is Hands down the best and strongest utility Knife for hard use! My Platoon Sgt. A Vietnam vet, never batted an eye on my wearing it on my LBE . Only had 1 plt. sgt in 8 yrs.who
Posted by: Patrick Champagne November 14, 2007 at 07:49 AM

Got my Ka-bar in 81, still have it!Handsdown, It's the best and strongest overall utility knife you can get !
Posted by: Patrick Champagne November 14, 2007 at 07:54 AM

Bought my K-bar about 1980. In the 1990's the Soldier next door had an interest in my daughter and had his army knife on the belt and was showing the daughter and my son his army survival knife with the compass, fishing line, etc. He'd never seen a K-Bar so I pulled it out to compare. He was in his uniform and he pulled out the bottom of his t-shirt to see how sharp the blade was. With very little effort the K-Bar cut through his shirt and slightly cut his stomach. He let out a holler as he thought he'd seriously cut himself. After he regained his composure, he commmented about how sharp that blade was. Note that I had not sharped the knife in at least ten years. The K-bar sits NIB on top of my gun case. It will be strapped to my side any time a disaster strikes my area.
Posted by: Fletcher November 14, 2007 at 08:15 AM

K-Bar Knives can be purchased at 1125 East State St., Olean, NY 14760 (716) 372-5952 and they will send you a catalog or take your order.
Posted by: charles t. sherwin November 14, 2007 at 08:35 AM

I carried my uncles WWII K-bar with me when I was in Special Ops (1/1st SF). No one ever made a comment about me carrying this legendary knife. It does the Job and I still have not been able to destoy this 65 year old beauty.
Posted by: Wynn November 14, 2007 at 08:36 AM

I bought my knife in 2002 before shipping out to the Iraqi war. Stationed in Qatar, I found that that was the knife to have and its daily cutting abilities were top notch. I would recommend this knife to anyone. Good job KBAR.
Posted by: Michael Stanek November 14, 2007 at 09:02 AM

I got my K-bar shortly before I Joined the Corps, and it is my all purpose tool. I cant imagine not having it around. If another branch member wants to carry it, fine its good for all occasions. It shouldnt matter if your Army or whatever.
Posted by: Christopher Capri November 14, 2007 at 09:26 AM

Even though I was in the Navy in the early '60's I wonder when all of these OLD military "LIFERS" (of all branches) will get their heads out of their collective anal orifices and realize we are all in the US military and use the same equipment - saves the taxpayers money on equipment and research.
Posted by: Toellner November 14, 2007 at 09:26 AM

I am glad that their are so many loyal Ka-Bar users and owners, I aquired mine when I was 10 years old. I was born and raised in Olean, NY. After I came home from the Korean war in 1954, I went to work at Ka-bar for about 2 years.
Posted by: Allan Brown November 14, 2007 at 09:29 AM

still have mine from 1962, sharpened both sides of the tip b/c I once broke a small piece off , don't remember how , but still extremely sharp ,useful ,n beautiful
Posted by: Joe Black November 14, 2007 at 09:30 AM

I purchased my K-Bar back in 1986. It has been around the world and remained strong in every aspect. I really don't think you could find a better more reliable knife. You can use it to cut, trim, shave, hammer, skin, kill..kill..kill....
Posted by: Dan November 14, 2007 at 09:32 AM

Hands down, it's the best diving knife ever! Sharpen it with a whetstone or even just a file and it walks through rope like it was butter.
Posted by: George Goulet November 14, 2007 at 09:41 AM

You might try and see if you can find an old WWII Cattaraugus 225Q, a/k/a the Army Quartermaster Knife. The blade's not quite as long, but it's plenty sturdy and has a proud ARMY tradition.
Posted by: Owen McPhillips November 14, 2007 at 10:53 AM

I was issued my first K-bar, when I was a Corpsman with the 2nd Marine Division (Desert Storm). That knife was used to dig holes, cut ropes, detatch straps, and even remove shrapnel. Sadly, I returned that one. However, I was issued my second one as a Corpsman, with the 1st Marine Div, in Somalia (Restore Hope). Again, although different country, same work. In this conflict, there were times that using a firearm would have been a bad choice. When that time came, the K-bar was the first thing that came to mind (and to my hands). I still have my trusty K-bar, and with God's blessings, one day, I will pass this one along to my son.God bless the designers, the United States Marine Corps, and the United States of America. (By the way, Happy Birthday U.S.M.C.)Semper Fi
Posted by: Alton November 14, 2007 at 10:55 AM

Why They Called It the Manhattan Project

Why They Called It the Manhattan Project

Fritz Goro/Time Life Pictures, via Getty Images
The Nevis cyclotron, which was constructed at Columbia University's Nevis Laboratories in Irvington, N.Y.

Published: October 30, 2007

By nature, code names and cover stories are meant to give no indication of the secrets concealed. “Magic” was the name for intelligence gleaned from Japanese ciphers in World War II, and “Overlord” stood for the Allied plan to invade Europe.

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The Manhattan Project's Hidden Sites

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Officials in 1945 at the test site in New Mexico.
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Many people assume that the same holds true for the Manhattan Project, in which thousands of experts gathered in the mountains of New Mexico to make the world’s first atom bomb.
Robert S. Norris, a historian of the atomic age, wants to shatter that myth.

In “The Manhattan Project” (Black Dog & Leventhal), published last month, Dr. Norris writes about the Manhattan Project’s Manhattan locations. He says the borough had at least 10 sites, all but one still standing. They include warehouses that held uranium, laboratories that split the atom, and the project’s first headquarters — a skyscraper hidden in plain sight right across from City Hall.

“It was supersecret,” Dr. Norris said in an interview. “At least 5,000 people were coming and going to work, knowing only enough to get the job done.”

Manhattan was central, according to Dr. Norris, because it had everything: lots of military units, piers for the import of precious ores, top physicists who had fled Europe and ranks of workers eager to aid the war effort. It even had spies who managed to steal some of the project’s top secrets.

“The story is so rich,” Dr. Norris enthused. “There’s layer upon layer of good stuff, interesting characters.”

Still, more than six decades after the project’s start, the Manhattan side of the atom bomb story seems to be a well-preserved secret.

Dr. Norris recently visited Manhattan at the request of The New York Times for a daylong tour of the Manhattan Project’s roots. Only one site he visited displayed a public sign noting its role in the epochal events. And most people who encountered his entourage, which included a photographer and videographer, knew little or nothing of the atomic labors in Manhattan.

“That’s amazing,” Alexandra Ghitelman said after learning that the buildings she had just passed on inline skates once held tons of uranium destined for atomic weapons. “That’s unbelievable.”

While shock tended to be the main reaction, some people hinted at feelings of pride. More than one person said they knew someone who had worked on the secret project, which formally got under way in August 1942 and three years later culminated in the atomic bombing of Japan. In all, it employed more than 130,000 people.

Dr. Norris is also the author of “Racing for the Bomb” (Steerforth, 2002), a biography of Gen. Leslie R. Groves, the project’s military leader. As his protagonist had done during the war, Dr. Norris works in Washington. At the Natural Resources Defense Council, he studies and writes about the nation’s atomic facilities.

Dr. Norris began his day of exploration by taking the train to New York from Washington, coming into Pennsylvania Station just as General Groves had done dozens of times during the war to visit project sites.

“Groves didn’t want the job,” Dr. Norris remarked outside the station. “But his foot hit the accelerator and he didn’t let up for 1,000 days.”

For tour assistance, Dr. Norris brought along his own books as well as printouts from “The Traveler’s Guide to Nuclear Weapons,” a CD by James M. Maroncelli and Timothy L. Karpin that features little-known history of the nation’s atom endeavors.

We headed north to the childhood home of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the eccentric genius whom General Groves hired to run the project’s scientific side as well as its sprawling New Mexico laboratory. Last year, a biography of Oppenheimer, “American Prometheus” (Knopf, 2005), won the Pulitzer Prize.

“One of the most famous scientists of the 20th century,” Dr. Norris noted, got his start “walking these streets” and attending the nearby Ethical Culture School.

Oppenheimer and his parents lived at 155 Riverside Drive, an elegant apartment building at West 88th Street. The superintendent, Joe Gugulski, said the family lived on the 11th floor, overlooking the Hudson River.

“One of my tenants read the book,” Mr. Gugulski told us. “So I looked it up.” To his knowledge, Mr. Gugulski added, no other atomic tourists had visited the building.

The Oppenheimers decorated their apartment with original artwork by Picasso, Rembrandt, Renoir, Van Gogh and CĂ©zanne, according to “American Prometheus.” His mother encouraged young Robert to paint.

By the late 1930s and early 1940s, blocks away at Columbia University, scientists were laboring to split the atom and release its titanic energies. We made our way across campus — with difficulty because of protests over the visit of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, which is widely suspected of harboring its own bomb program.

Dr. Norris noted that the Manhattan Project led to “many of our problems today.”

The Pupin Physics Laboratories housed the early atom experiments, Dr. Norris said. But the tall building, topped by observatory domes, has no plaque in its foyer describing its nuclear ties.

Passing students and pedestrians answered “no” and “kind of” when asked if they knew of the atom breakthroughs at Pupin Hall. Dr. Norris said the Manhattan Project, at its peak, employed 700 people at Columbia. At one point, the football team was recruited to move tons of uranium. That work, he said, eventually led to the world’s first nuclear reactor.

After lunch, we headed to West 20th Street just off the West Side Highway. The block, on the fringe of Chelsea, bristled with new galleries, and Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses. On its north side, three tall buildings once made up the Baker and Williams Warehouses, which held tons of uranium.

Two women taking a cigarette break said they had no idea of their building’s atomic past. “It’s horrible,” said one.

Dr. Norris’s “Traveler’s Guide” fact sheet said the federal government in the late 1980s and early 1990s cleaned the buildings of residual uranium. Workers removed more than a dozen drums of radioactive waste, according to the Department of Energy in Washington. “Radiological surveys show that the site now meets applicable requirements for unrestricted use,” a federal document said in 1995.

We moved to Manhattan’s southern tip and worked our way up Broadway along the route known as the Canyon of Heroes, the scene of many ticker-tape parades amid the skyscrapers.
At 25 Broadway, we visited a minor but important site — the Cunard Building. Edgar Sengier, a Belgian with an office here, had his company mine about 1,200 tons of high-grade uranium ore and store it on Staten Island in the shadow of the Bayonne Bridge. Though a civilian, he knew of the atomic possibilities and feared the invading Germans might confiscate his mines.

Dr. Norris said General Groves, on his first day in charge, sent an assistant to buy all that uranium for a dollar a pound — or $2.5 million. “The Manhattan Project was off to a flying start,” he said, adding that the Belgian entrepreneur in time supplied two-thirds of all the project’s uranium.

We walked past St. Paul’s Chapel and proceeded to the soaring grandeur of the Woolworth Building, once the world’s tallest, at 233 Broadway.

A major site, it housed a front company that devised one of the project’s main ways of concentrating uranium’s rare isotope — a secret of bomb making. On the 11th, 12th and 14th floors, the company drew on the nation’s scientific best and brightest, including teams from Columbia.

Dr. Norris said the front company’s 3,700 employees included Klaus Fuchs, a Soviet spy. “He was a substantial physicist in his own right,” Dr. Norris said. “He contributed to the American atom bomb, the Soviet atom bomb and the British atom bomb.”

So how did the Manhattan Project get its name, and why was Manhattan chosen as its first headquarters?

Dr. Norris said the answer lay at our next stop, 270 Broadway. There, at Chambers Street, on the southwest corner, we found a nondescript building overlooking City Hall Park.

It was here, Dr. Norris said, that the Army Corps of Engineers had its North Atlantic Division, which built ports and airfields. When the Corps got the responsibility of making the atom bomb, it put the headquarters in the same building, on the 18th floor.

“That way he didn’t need to reinvent the wheel,” Dr. Norris said of General Groves. “He used what he had at his fingertips — the entire Corps of Engineers infrastructure.”

Dr. Norris added that the Corps at that time included “extraorinary people, the best and brightest of West Point.”

In time, the office at 270 Broadway ran not only atom research and materials acquisition but also the building of whole nuclear cities in Tennessee, New Mexico and Washington State.

The first proposed name for the project, Dr. Norris said, was the Laboratory for the Development of Substitute Materials. But General Groves feared that would draw undo attention.

Instead, General Groves called for the bureaucratically dull approach of adopting the standard Corps procedure for naming new regional organizations. That method simply noted the unit’s geographical area, as in the Pittsburgh Engineer District.

So the top-secret endeavor to build the atom bomb got the most boring of cover names: the Manhattan Engineer District, in time shortened to the Manhattan Project. Unlike other Corps districts, however, it had no territorial limits. “He was nuts about not attracting attention,” Dr. Norris said.

Manhattan’s role shrank as secretive outposts for the endeavor sprouted across the country and quickly grew into major enterprises. By the late summer of 1943, little more than a year after its establishment, the headquarters of the Manhattan Project moved to Oak Ridge, Tenn.

Despite this dispersal, Dr. Norris said, scientists and businesses in Manhattan, including The New York Times, continued to aid the atomic project.

In April 1945, General Groves traveled to the newspaper’s offices on West 43rd Street. He asked that a science writer, William L. Laurence, be allowed to go on leave to report on a major wartime story involving science.

As early as 1940, before wartime secrecy, Mr. Laurence had reported on the atomic breakthroughs at Pupin Hall.

Now, Dr. Norris said, Mr. Laurence went to work for the Manhattan Project and became the only reporter to witness the Trinity test in the New Mexican desert in July 1945, and, shortly thereafter, the nuclear bombing of Japan.

The atomic age, Mr. Laurence wrote in the first article of a series, began in the New Mexico desert before dawn in a burst of flame that illuminated “earth and sky for a brief span that seemed eternal.”

In Manhattan, the one location that has memorialized its atomic connection had nothing to do with making or witnessing the bomb, but rather with managing to survive its fury.

The spot is on Riverside Drive between 105th and 106th Streets. There, in a residential neighborhood, in front of the New York Buddhist Church, is a tall statue of a Japanese Buddhist monk, Shinran Shonin, who lived in the 12th and 13th centuries. In peasant hat and sandals, holding a wooden staff, the saint peers down on the sidewalk.

The statue survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, standing a little more than a mile from ground zero. It was brought to New York in 1955. The plaque calls the statue “a testimonial to the atomic bomb devastation and a symbol of lasting hope for world peace.”

The statue stands a few blocks from Columbia University, where much of the bomb program began.

“I wonder how many New Yorkers know about it,” Dr. Norris said of the statue, “and know the history.”

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"This project DID help humanity. It stopped the war!"Warren Clark, Columbus, Ohio
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