Editor's Note: The Santa Monica Landmarks Commission will decide tonight whether to file an application to designate Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist Paul Conrad's mushroom cloud sculpture, Chain Reaction, as a landmark.
I am arguably the world's leading expert on peace monuments, which are vastly out-numbered by war monuments. In my opinion, "Chain Reaction" is an anti-war "warning monument" for which there is no adequate word in English. is very unusual in several different ways and should be afforded or whatever other protections are available to ensure its long term preservation. The very existence of the sculpture is a service to the nation and to humankind.
Of course, it's very unfortunate that a local community like Santa Monica bears the responsibility (and possible expense) for the protection and preservation of such a monument, but state and national agencies like the National Park Service cannot go everywhere and do everything. By definition, all monuments are intended to be permanent, and most monuments are local in conception. And it is not surprising that, as time goes forward, communities like Santa Monica must decide to remove, to neglect, to preserve, or to honor the monumental legacy they have inherited from the past. I sincerely hope that the city of Santa Monica will recognize that it has the privilege to host Chain Reaction and will agree to be responsible for its preservation on behalf of all humankind.
Although the atomic bomb has been regarded since 1945 as the greatest single threat to the survival of humankind, it is truly amazing that, except in Japan, popular culture has done very little to expose the bomb to engender a discussion of its catastrophic potential. To my knowledge, there are only three physical and permanent manifestations of the bomb and its potential for destruction anywhere in the United States: A peace studies center at a Quaker college in Wilmington, OH; one man's eccentric collection of anti-nuclear artifacts in Los Alamos, NM; and Chain Reaction in Santa Monica. It is extremely important that these symbols be honored and preserved so that everyone living now and in the future can be constantly reminded of their meaning
— Edward W. Lollis, Knoxville, TN