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Friday, July 8, 2011

Land of the Titans

"Lift off

Titan Road begins just three miles from our house. Our neighborhood and the ones surrounding it are filled with engineers and project managers, inventors and technicians who work at Lockheed and, for the past decade or two have been at work to send space shuttles into space, create deep space vehicles (Mars), and prepare the Orion space capsule for eventual use to carry humans into deep space.

There is a bitter sweet feeling all around this morning. Pride in work well done and remarkable accomplishment. Concern for the future of a mission they believe in and, frankly, for their own jobs. Will we see more For Sale signs soon?

Consider me naive. Dumb, head in the ground naive. During the entire period of time that these same Titan missiles were developed and built a few miles away and being prepared to carry unfathomable nuclear destruction across the globe, when another generation was immersed in the Cold War mission of annihilation -- or Mutually Assured Destruction, as the official policy was called, or MAD -- I spent dozens of weekends here in Littleton and had no clue.

In the 1950's, the Martin Company of Baltimore, sent a man I met and really liked, a spunky soul, to find property in these foothills for a plant at which to create the Cold War hardware. Especially the Titan missiles. He nailed it. A perfect site so out of sight, tucked in behind the hogback in a pristine valley, before suburban sprawl encroached, that many of us had no idea it was here. You heard about Rocky Flats and their production of plutonium triggers but not as much about The Martin Company. Then it became Martin Marietta and word spread, and then eventually Lockheed and now we all see its signage as we drive past to favorite hiking spots.

The incongruity of the world. We don't, we can't separate danger zones, dare I say immoral zones from the rest of life. It is all mixed up together.

I had no idea Martin was nearby, no idea that Littleton was the source of the ICBM's I protested long and loud in the late 60's and 70's and 80's. Consider me naive. My cousins lived here. What I knew about Littleton then was Barbie dolls in their spacious basement, a model train set created by my cousin Bert, the Rexall Drug in the shopette on Orchard near University, and racing popsicle sticks down rain swollen gutters in front of my cousins' house.

I had no idea that their neighbors were living in homes built on paychecks that came from destructive creativity. Or that the church I would eventually come back to serve was full of men who made their living planning for the killing of millions on the other side of the world.

My uncle had no such job so I was oblivious to it all. Perhaps my cousins were too. But I've often wondered about what it does, did, to one's soul to spend all of one's creative energy on the minutiae of death. Delivery systems, guidance systems, triggers, all of it perfected in those years of the "hot" Cold War.

The shuttle is the happier outcome of their labors, and the Mars Lander, the Mars Rover, and other reaches into deep space. The generation at work now has had a much more constructive mission. I only imagine they sleep better at night.

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