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Monday, October 22, 2012

And the praying began

Fifty years ago...

On October 22 at 7:00 pm EDT, President Kennedy delivered a nation-wide televised address on all of the major networks announcing the discovery of the missiles.
It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.

Kennedy described the administration's plan:

To halt this offensive buildup, a strict quarantine on all offensive military equipment under shipment to Cuba is being initiated. All ships of any kind bound for Cuba, from whatever nation or port, will, if found to contain cargoes of offensive weapons, be turned back. This quarantine will be extended, if needed, to other types of cargo and carriers. We are not at this time, however, denying the necessities of life as the Soviets attempted to do in their Berlin blockade of 1948.

Comments (5)

That was nearly four years before my time, but that decision was one that shaped my entire adolescence, for good or ill. A lot of people call it saber-rattling, but this was literally a historical pivot, and I don't want to think of what would have happened had anybody else been in the seat on that day.

I was only eight, but I remember it well. We were scared. My sister and I would huddle with my parents watching the civil defense films on the black and white Zenith TV and my friends and I would look at the maps in the newspaper showing the ranges of the missiles.

I wrote a recollection of those events and of JFK's assasination that was published in Brainstorm NW magazine in November 2003. You might enjoy it.

I was also eight at the time. We started fallout drills at my elementary school, under the guise of a "tornado drill", where we were herded into the hallways, told to sit down with our backs to the lockers, and do the "duck and cover". And while we were indeed located in a tornado-prone area, it was the wrong time of year for that - and the teachers were keeping the windows closed, not open.

I live in an old fallout shelter.

If you get a chance and haven't read it already, check out this book:

JFK and the Unspeakable
Why he and why it matters
Author: James W. Douglass

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