atomic weapons

More than 500,000 American veterans were exposed to nuclear weapons tests from the 1940s to the early 1990s. These so-called “atomic veterans” were not permitted to speak about their participation in the tests until 1996 when the Nuclear Radiation and Secrecy Agreements Laws were repealed. Now the veterans who were exposed to the radiation from the weapons program will be offered a certificate marking their contribution.

Observers watch an explosion during Operation Hardtack in 1958. 35 nuclear tests were conducted in the Pacific, exposing troops to radiation.
Nevada National Security Site

The new certificate recognizes as many as 550,000 veterans who were exposed to nuclear weapons tests between 1945 and 1992. But the certificates leave a lot of atomic veterans underwhelmed.

A nuclear bomb and its parachute rest in a field near Goldsboro, N.C. after falling from a B-52 bomber in 1961. If it had detonated, it could have instantly killed thousands of people.
U.S. Air Force

During the Cold War, U.S. planes accidentally dropped nuclear bombs on the east coast, in Europe, and elsewhere. "Dumb luck" prevented a historic catastrophe.