Olivia's Marathon Misadventures

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

What Were You Doing 20 Years Ago Today?

At 1:23 AM twenty years ago today, reactor #4 at the Chernobyl nuclear power station exploded. Only 30 people died immediately. A radioactive fire burned for 10 days releasing 190 tons of toxic gases and material into the atmosphere. Those that survived inside the Black Zone, those that lived in the workers village and surrounding towns, were exposed to amounts of radiation that can be active for up to 24,000 years. Some victims didn't last longer than a few weeks or months. These were mainly men who were grabbed from the street and put to work with little or no protection cleaning up radioactive material with their bare hands. Today children and adults alike are living and dying in circumstances that are unimaginable.

Can you imagine picking up radioactive material in your overalls and bare hands? Can you imagine being evacuated from your home never to return while your belongings stay behind, frozen in a moment that has lasted for decades?

Anyway, I came across a video documentary (Chernobyl Legacy) while eating breakfast this morning. I was enjoying my favorite breakfast, bagel, cream cheese and lox. Mmm. Rich westerner. But as I watched this, my FAVORITE food didn't have any taste. It was cardboard. I fed the fish to Frank and threw the rest away. Wasteful.

For as long as I can remember "Chernobyl" was a word you said when something was a complete and utter disaster: My room is like Chernobyl. My zit popped like Chernobyl. I guess that is what happens when you are 11 years old. But today I saw for the first time what Chernobyl really means.

I feel so lucky. I am lucky that I can walk, let alone run. I'll be thinking about this on Saturday.


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