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friend, several cousins. Trinity Site, which sits in the northern section of the missile range, was the crown jewel, a point of focus and pride. This ideal, of course, conflicts with a less comfortable set of facts: the lives lost to the atomic bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the backhanded way the U.S. government annexed the land for the site from New Mexico ranchers and farmersnot to mention the tragic effects on humans and the environment caused by nuclear weapons manufacture and testing in this country, the turmoil created in a world where weapons of mass destruction are a constant threat. When I reach the front of the line, a soldier hands me a sheet of”entry rules,” along with an informational brochure. The procedure has obviously changed since my last visit. While some of the rules make sense \(pets are to be kept on their leashes; motorcyclists must wear hel”Demonstrations, picketing, sit-ins, protest marches, political speeches and similar activities are prohibited.” Protests, ranging from poetry readings and prayer services to anti-war rallies and peace circles, have been a fixture at the Trinity Site for years. It has always Left: Remains of the day; vintage photo displayed at Trinity Site. Below: Current display Site, the place was nothing more than a simple circle of fence. One sign read, “radioactive material.” Another warned against touching the ground, eating, drinking or applying make-up at Ground Zero. It was creepy, but allowed for contemplation.Today armed soldiers direct traffic in a huge, newly paved parking area located 20 miles from the entrance gate. Tourists spill out of their cars, readying their cameras and collecting their children. RVs line one full side of the parking lot, and in an adjacent lot hot-dog and soda stands are set-up. There’s a booth where vendors sell Tshirts and ball caps on which is printed a tacky orange-red graphic of the mushroom cloud exploding. “Trinity Site,” they read, “Home of the First Atomic Bomb.” Farther out, by the endless row of port-a-potties, a Boy Scout Troop assembles. When asked why they came, the troop leader shrugs, and tells me, “Boy Scouts like things that blow up.” At Ground Zero, the spot where the bomb was detonated, an obelisk stands, declaring the site a National Monument. Photos of bomb constructionshots of scientists and the young, bright-eyed soldiers who acted as their aidesare prominently displayed along seemed fitting that the missile range should encourage such activity, that the circle of scarred earth should serve as a monument to free speech. Indeed, one might argue that the atomic bomb was employed to protect these freedoms.The Trinity Site opening should be a day of contemplation, of mourning, and, most importantly, a day when the site is open to the entire public, including poets and protestors. But now that right to free speech has been denied. Something else had changed since my last visit. The first time I visited Trinity 7/5/02 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 31