It’s a discolored concrete slab, molding in the tropical humidity. But on this slab, not much bigger than the footprint of a beach cabin, history changed.
What was once a doorway is obvious, as are the bases for a couple interior walls and an opening for a larger garage-like entrance.
I walk through the doorway, through the interior and out the garage. As I do, my guide puts these few steps in extraordinary perspective.
“You’re walking the path of the atomic bomb.”
This slab is where the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki 75 years ago were put together. It’s the assembly point for the dawning of the atomic age.
Now it sits, essentially ignored, on the Pacific island of Tinian, from where the US Army Air Force B-29 bombers that performed those atomic strikes on Japan departed.
Tinian is part of the Northern Mariana Islands, now a US territory in the Pacific. In 2020, it’s a sleepy, rustic, tropical paradise of 3,000 residents. There are a handful of restaurants, a few small hotels and a single gas station on its 39 square miles (101 square kilometers).
In 1944, Tinian and its sister island of Saipan, five miles to the north, were the scene of brutal fighting between the United States and Japan.