Friday, June 19, 2015

Letter from Tad, June 1945

Dearest Rosie:

You've every right to toss this letter unopened into the scrap pile given how long it's taken to make its way from my heart and mind to your mailbox. Night after night, on mahogany desks in Washington, D.C. and steel tables in drafty prefabricated huts in the Hanford desert, I've scratched out the words on a sheet of gradually fraying paper. Sometimes just a sentence, or nothing at all, before the phone rings or someone knocks. It's always urgent and always secret. But never as important to me as you are.

Alas, the world doesn't see it that way. Of course you know I can't tell you much about my work, but I can say I've been traveling a great deal. Washington State, Washington, DC, and even New Mexico. You'd like it there - clean, beautiful desert with sharp mountains against a dark blue sky. I hope we'll see it together some day.

Wherever I go I read the same sickening stories you do in each day's newspaper.

Okinawa shows us that there is no hope of redemption for the Japanese. They will never stop fighting until every last one of them is dead, and they'll make sure to take as many of us with them as they can. This war cannot continue, for their sake as well as ours.

The project I'm working on, if it's successful, will put an end to this and every other war. I know everyone in Seattle's guessing: Could it be a new kind of radar? A secret code? I will say this - when it's revealed it will change the world, and for the better. After all the unimaginable pain and destruction this war has caused, we'll come out clean and bright as a sunrise over the New Mexico desert.

I slipped out of my hut this afternoon, determined to finish this letter. It's dusk now and I can barely see to write, but it's beautiful here. I'm sitting on a boulder still warm from the day's heat. Below me, the lights of the Hanford Works are just beginning to twinkle across the sagebrush. Above me, the deep violet band of the Earth's shadow is climbing above the eastern horizon, pulling a blanket of stars behind it.

They don't teach physicists poetry, so my silly words don't do justice to my feelings. But I'll say I take enormous comfort in knowing the same stars are shining on you, even though they're hidden by Seattle's clouds. No matter how much work clamors for my attention there's always a hidden corner of my heart that's untouched by it. It's a place like this lonely ridge: Safe from the world's cares, needing only you by my side. I imagine us standing here together arm in arm, gray-haired and wrinkled, looking over the ruin that peace will have made of this place, and I smile.

All my love,


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