Oct. 29—An Aiken park hosted a ceremony on Friday to honor a forgotten group of people who helped win the Cold War.
Nuclear Care Partners hosted a ceremony to mark the 14th annual National Day of Remembrance for Nuclear Weapons Program Workers Friday at Beverly Clyburn Generations Park.
Nuclear Care Partners is a Department of Labor contracted group that helps retired nuclear workers access the benefits they're entitled to under federal law.
The first national day of remembrance was marked by a U.S. Senate resolution in 2009. Each year since, Oct. 30, Saturday this year, has been marked as a day to remember those who worked the nuclear weapons production industry during the Cold War.
Henry Main, 97, was the oldest former nuclear weapons worker to attend the ceremony in Generations Park. He managed the coal-fired power plant in D-Area from 1953 until 1993.
"It means a lot [to be recognized]," Main said. "I appreciate it. I enjoyed working there. I worked there till I was 68 years old, and I'm coming up on 98 right now."
Daniel Dent worked at the Savannah River Site from 1990 until 1995. Prior to that he worked at a nuclear facility in California, Vallecitos, where material that's been through a nuclear reactor is examined.
Dent said he "got a lot of damage" while working in California. He said his bones degenerated very badly, he lost his right cornea, had skin cancer and had several problems with his feet.
Dent's twin brother, David, also attended the ceremony. He worked in the weapons production industry at Sandia National Laboratory for 11 years and at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for 10 years. Dent said he worked in a tritium research lab for 10 years and developed hardware to help sort plutonium.
He said he felt undeserving to be treated so well.
"I feel like I'm their brothers and sisters because they're so close to me," Dent said. "I don't deserve this."
Dent added he has several health problems that he says resulted from his experience near radioactive materials including kidney cancer and epilepsy.
For more information about Nuclear Care Partners, visit nuclearcarepartners.com.
For more information about federal benefits for retired nuclear weapons workers, visit dol.gov/agencies/owcp/energy.