IN THOSE DAYS AMERICANS HAD THIS ONE GREATEST FEAR
What fear is that? And when? Who ever thought we could look back on that time period and consider those to be simpler times?
We were safer then as well, but of course we did not realize this at the time.
Those long, dark days during the beginning of the Cold War with the Soviet Union and the talk of deterrence through the fear of mutual destruction…
Ed Hungness, columnist for Traverse City, Michigan Record Eagle publication had this reflection about what life was like in those early Cold War days…
Nightly newscasts bombarded the public with gloom and impending doom of nuclear holocaust. People wanted to be prepared for what might come and enable themselves to survive. Our government, whose primary job it is to protect us, came to the rescue and created the Civil Defense.
School children were instructed in air raid drills, learning what to do if we were attacked. When the alarm sounded, teachers led their students to basement hallways where they sat on the floor leaning against the wall. If the school didn’t have a basement, they were taught how to crouch under their desk with hands clasped behind their necks. The term, “duck and cover” was coined and used to describe the procedure. I saw these drills as an excuse to get out of doing math problems at the blackboard.
Newly installed air raid sirens sounded as a preparedness test once a month in my hometown. Citizens were required to seek shelter in designated areas in bigger cities. Shelters were stocked with emergency supplies of water, food, cots and blankets.
Television stations ran public service announcements carrying film footage of what it was like to be in the vicinity of an atomic blast. It showed houses and buildings being blown away in seconds, ships at sea being tossed into the air like toys and huge fireballs rising into the sky. I began to wonder how “duck and cover” was going to save me.
The rest of his column is available at www.record-eagle.com.
During that time many of us believed the nuclear conflict was inevitable. Comparing those days, our current situation seems so much more complex and infinitely more dangerous. Will we survive?
photo credit: atoms for peace via photopin (license)