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Redstone Arsenal

I wonder what it must be like when a bomb explodes. My husband was killed by such an explosion and I imagined the rumble and shock and deafening percussion as the ground rocked and the air transformed into a solid mass of black rain. I imagined the blast so violent you are knocked senseless, and when you wake up, if you wake up, you have no idea what happened. But it wasn't until this week at Redstone Arsenal where teams of agents study all things incendiary, that I got up close to the deadliest of weapons.

I was in the middle of speaking to a team of chemists about Life Detonated when outside the classroom we heard a series of explosions. The first one gave me pause, but the second stopped me cold as I heard the ear-piercing blast and felt the ground rock. I looked out at my audience, who seemed not to have heard, but that was impossible, as the noise was like a sonic boom. Then I saw the smiles. "We blow up the leftovers on Friday," someone said.

They were referring to the range where agents and chemists study bomb blasts, from the size of the crater to the color of the smoke, to all the pieces left behind. They were a brilliant group of PhDs and the world's foremost experts in bomb disposal, who were used to the magnitude of an explosion, and didn't blink when the room shook.

Hopefully, most of us will never hear or feel the repercussion of a detonation. For me, once was enough.

The photo above is a memorial for those who lost their lives keeping our country safe. Brian's name is on that wall. I am "family," the unit chief told me. It is those who never forget who allow me to move forward, and my Redstone family that makes it just a little bit easier.

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