It's 1942. World War II is raging. Casablanca and Bambi are in theaters. Ghandi has just demanded independence for India.
On New Year's Day, the Rose Bowl is moved to North Carolina because of concerns the Japanese will follow their sneak attack on Pearl Harbor with an assault against the West Coast.
In rural southeast Washington, people are busy planting and sowing, raising children and crops. Young men go off to war.
The Bruggemann family lives and farms near the Columbia River. Just one year later, they will be given 30 days to get off their land and make room for a "top-secret" government project.
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They're joined by hundreds of families from the little towns of White Bluffs, Hanford and Richland. The massive construction project forcing them from their homes and fields drastically will change the face of the Mid-Columbia and ultimately play the lead role in bringing WWII to a close.
These are events, places, faces and consequences to be remembered.
Fast forward almost 70 years.
America's new wars, fought entirely by volunteers, only occasionally make headlines. Who cares what's on at the movies? You can watch anything you want on your iPad (second generation). India is turning into an economic force.
Families still farm in the Mid-Columbia, but much of it's done from air-conditioned, computer-controlled cabs.
Interestingly enough, the Bruggemann family warehouse still stands near the "top secret" B Reactor. It's one of many artifacts from that tell our story.
Through the years, the federal agencies in charge of Hanford's 586 square miles have changed, but the federal government still is the owner.
In recent years, it sometimes has seemed that the heavy hand employed by the feds to clear the Hanford site in 1943 never lightened much.
But today, we're seeing a philosophical shift in the Department of Energy's approach to post-Hanford Tri-Cities. We're cautiously optimistic.
The plan in the past has been to clean up and get out of town. DOE's contractors have been busy demolishing and removing old stuff for years now.
So the indications that DOE is interested in museums, artifacts and the economic future of the Tri-Cities is a welcome change.
The depth of that commitment has yet to be tested, but the Energy Department's decision to create a new position focused on Hanford's potential beyond cleanup is a good sign.
Colleen French is Hanford's new government affairs program manager. Her job basically is to coordinate use of the Hanford complex with stakeholders in the community.
French visited the editorial board for an hour recently, and her enthusiasm for preserving our history and engaging the community in a dialogue about Hanford's future is contagious.
She has big plans for the whole complex -- everything from getting B Reactor designated as a museum to a 100-year anniversary of the original Hanford High School to the potential sale of some Hanford land to private industry.
A small portion of the land will be held back for many years to come as cleanup continues in the core of the reservation. But most of it never has been contaminated or has been declared clean.
The bulk of the area is designated for conservation and preservation, but 60 square miles are reserved for industrial purposes.
French strikes us as a particularly good choice for the job. She expresses a clear understanding that DOE has a crucial role to play in shaping the Mid-Columbia's future, and that its success depends on building partnerships with the community.
In preserving Hanford's history, for example, it's crucial for DOE, the B Reactor Museum Association, the Columbia River Exhibition of History, Science and Technology and the Hanford Reach Interpretive Center to cooperate.
Other partnerships are needed -- in economic development, tourism, protecting the cultural interests of Northwest Indian tribes, exploiting the Hanford Reach's recreational potential and more.
DOE's new approach is a far cry from its unilateral and unpopular decision two years ago to evict all tenants from the top of Rattlesnake Mountain.
If French does get the support she needs from DOE management, we're unlikely to see that sort of action repeated.