MY COLD WAR: THOUGHTS WHILE STUDYING AMERICAN HISTORY 1865 TO PRESENT
* Dad and his B-52 crew on Alert, living at the Alert Shack two weeks every month – sometimes families were allowed to visit and share a Sunday lunch…not every Sunday though
* Dad and crew flying 24 hour missions to Russia –
* something about a Chrome Dome…something to do with those 24 hour missions and Russia (Wikipedia explains it so: Bombers loitered near points outside the Soviet Union to provide rapid first strike or retaliation capability in case of nuclear war) I always imagined it like a cover over the earth, and Dad flew to its edge
* the “red phone”
* Dad’s big flight helmet with a sun shield, and he wore these two little plastic discs around his neck. He told us that Santa could speak to us through them…sometime later someone told me they were radiation detectors, to tell if he’d been contaminated somehow
* Everyone at Mass praying for God to stop the spread of Communism every day before class (2nd grade – 6th grade), and on Sundays
* All the kids at school wearing dog tags with our names and addresses
* People building bomb shelters (we didn’t)
* Being told that if the Russians bombed America, we would be amongst the first to be bombed because there were missile sites all around the base, and the Russians would want to take out the missiles and the B-52s first. We were proud to be that “important.”
* Practicing for a nuclear blast…all families on base had to have a stockpile of water, canned foods sufficient for at least two weeks; everyone was told to stay inside (though we kids would sneak out after the AP (Air Police) vehicles drove down the block – it was a game to hide from them)
Have you ever seen a fully loaded B-52 fly over with its vast, heavy wings? Have you ever imagined what it is like for that giant airplane, loaded with nuclear bombs, to refuel below another giant airplane (tanker), so close that one miscalculation could explode them both.
Once one of the 52s exploded on base (Walker AFB, NM). The blast blew out all the windows in our base school. One of the Airmen who was killed had been our Sunday school teacher. The power of that explosion was stunning. Imagine the power of a nuclear bomb…
The world knew the destruction of the Atomic Bomb. There was no reason to believe it could not, would not happen again. It was, and is, a real threat.
I am curious to see how this textbook presents it. The very question to describe real vs. perceived threats makes me think the authors are skeptics. Perception is reality…threat of death by bombs was very real when I was a kid.