Something I've been hearing is, "Well, its all about the people -- nothing else really matters". Really?
People are temporary -- they come, the go, they live, they raise children, they die and their children and children's children repeat the cycle. Populations cycle, though they never really change. And yet.........
At the end of the premier performance of Beethoven's 3rd Symphony a critic asked the composer, "Who are you writing for" to which Beethoven replied, "I am writing for a generation not yet born". It is the fact of the impermanence of our existance which drives us to leave some kind of mark, some legacy, beyond the span of our short years. Art, Literature, Music, Science, Engineering, Architecture are the works which live beyond us and create a continuity from one generation to the next. These are not a matter of the false pride of Ozymandius "Behold my might works and tremble". They are the Gift we give to those whom we will never know. Without them each generation would have to re-invent the wheel.
The Dark Ages were brought about by the total obliteration of the Roman Empire including her Legacy in the Arts, Sciences, and Engineering. The Rennaiscance was launched by the re-discovery of this lost knowledge -- a re-discovery without which our modern world would not be possible.
To my knowledge there are only two buildings standing in the Los Alamos Townsite which hearken back to the War Years -- the CB Fox building, and the Little Theater. Did you know that the Downtown Revitalization Master Plan adopted in 02 envisioned flattening both? Had the Plan been implemented an entire era would have been lost forever.
Look around you now. How many of the structures of the AEC era, 1947 - 1967, are being demolished? How many will remain? Did you know there was a proposal made which, if implemented, would have flattened every government built house in northern area?
Here's a rather odd contradiction: Recently the Historical Society rebuilt and restored the Romero cabin and Council has approved a plan which includes erecting a statue to an early scientist not for his scientific achievements but for saving The Lodge from demolition. Both of these are pre-War structures and each is the last surviving representative of its era. Yet, the people who celebrate these structures are the same who would have the Municipal Building and other structures of the post war years demolished and lost forever.
The Dark Ages were caused by the breaking of continuity with the Past -- a past that was obliterated out of pure spite. That continuity was broken for over 400 years. It changed nothing. The darker side of human nature remains. Where do you suppose we would be today if the the knowledge and works of the Ancient World had been preserved and built upon and added to in an unbroken continuity though the generations?
People are temporary; that which they build and create is what counts. When the thread of continuity from one generation to the next is summarily cut, then the future becomes very uncertain indeed.