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Ukraine Town of Pripyat
There have been several nuclear reactor accidents in modern history. One of these, however, is remembered more than most, due to its devastating effects. During the late-night hours of April 26, 1986, the town of Pripyat – located in the Ukraine – was attempting to sleep. To most of its inhabitants, it would seem no different from any other night.
Unfortunately for the people of Pripyat, their world was about to change forever. The Chernobyl Nuclear Reactor was not functioning properly. With a distinguishable cooling tower that touches the sky, Chernobyl was about to unexpectedly turn a massive city into a ghost town. A power failure in the reactor caused a steam explosion. From there, the reactor blew its top and spewed radioactive steam into the atmosphere.
Death and Lingering Radiation
It didn’t take long for firefighters to arrive on the scene. However, some of the first on the scene, trying to contain the disaster, were killed. Many civilians later died from radiation exposure. Helicopters attempted to pour sand and other material into the cooling tower in an attempt to contain the radiation. The town, which once harbored nearly 50,000 people, was evacuated. To this day, Pripyat remains abandoned.
Tourists occasionally venture into Pripyat on tours, where they can observe the once-populous city. Many iconic images have surfaced, including those of the cooling tower, an amusement park, and the Square, among others. The incident, along with the iconic images taken, have made many people familiar the Chernobyl accident. In 2007, many people became even more familiar with the incident following its inclusion in a critically-acclaimed masterpiece.
Call of Duty 4
Upon the release of Call of Duty 4, many of its players discovered something. Two of their favorite levels – “All Ghillied Up” and “One Shot, One Kill” – were set in the abandoned town of 1996 Pripyat. The player, as Lt. John Price, must follow Captain MacMillan to the sniper’s nest. From there, the goal is to assassinate a former Soviet, who wishes to spark a civil war and restore Russia to the USSR.
Using history to examine disastrous incidents, we can try to truly improve the condition of all people, everywhere.
MacMillan issued an iconic line for the franchise, still remembered by many fans: “50,000 people used to live in this city. Now it’s a ghost town.” After sneaking through some of the city’s iconic locations, Price and MacMillan set up in an abandoned hotel, overlooking the Square. Their target – Imran Zakhaev – soon arrives with his military force. Price proceeds to shoot his target, but only injures him, blowing off his arm. Their cover now blown, Price and MacMillan evacuate the hotel, fighting Zakhaev’s troops while escaping the city.
Chernobyl’s Historical Impact
Call of Duty 4 sparked an intrigue within me to explore the Chernobyl accident, as well as Pripyat. I began discovering photos of the town’s memorable buildings and locations. I uncovered the story of an object within Chernobyl known as the “Elephant’s Foot.” This highly-radioactive object consists of molten radioactive material and is located in the basement of the reactor.
Another aspect that intrigued me was the animal population. Feral dogs, wolves, foxes, reindeer, moose, wild horses, and many other wildlife species now dominate the area. Some of them, due to radiation poisoning, have severe defects.
Studying history is not only to examine the past. It is that, but also, to study how we can better connect with people and events. In doing this, though we will never achieve perfection, we can always seek to better ourselves and relations with other countries. The Cold War isolated many countries and authoritarianism endangered millions of lives, in many ways.
In the future, perhaps we can look to the Chernobyl accident to examine how we can better promote safer handling of dangerous substances. We can push for more safety in workplaces that deal with hazardous material. In using history to examine disastrous incidents, we can try to truly improve the condition of all people, everywhere.