“Our goal is not the victory of might, but the vindication of right…”

My temperature gauge let me know the morning was cold. When I got out of bed, Gracie burrowed. She pushed the covers to the bottom of the bed and snuggled. Gracie, a creature of comfort, had made her own nest of warmth. She was right about the cold house. It was early and the heat had yet to come on so I needed a sweatshirt and warm slippers, but by the time I got downstairs,  the heat was blowing. Soon enough the house was warm.

The day is beautiful and will be in the 60’s. I need to fill the bird feeders and do a couple of errands. Yesterday I was a sloth.

The 50th anniversary of the Cuban missile was yesterday. I remember watching the flickering black and white television when President Kennedy announced the blockade of Cuba and warned the Soviets that any nuclear attack from Cuba would be construed as an act of war, and that the United States would retaliate in kind. I was in high school, old enough to understand we were in crisis and nuclear war was a possibility. I had learned duck and cover in grammar school, but when the President made his announcement, we all knew duck and cover was naive, that nuclear weapons would be devastating: destroying cities and killing untold numbers of people. I remember hearing the announcement that the Soviets ships delivering the missiles had not yet turned back. On the TV were maps depicting the positions of their ships and ours and how close their ships were to the American naval blockade. All of us were scared to death. We had grown up with the Cold War, and the Soviet Union had always been the bad guy.

We waited thirteen days for the crisis to end. The longer we had to wait the more frightened we became. It was all we talked about on the bus ride to school, in school, at lunch and while standing in groups outside after lunch. We thought our world was going to end.

On October 28th Khrushchev announced he would dismantle the missile installations and return the missiles to the Soviet Union. The US agreed not to invade Cuba. The world sighed in unison.

We wouldn’t know for years the backstage negotiations between Khrushchev and Kennedy. All we knew was we had been on the brink of war for thirteen days. I remember all of it, but I remember the fear most of all.

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14 Comments on ““Our goal is not the victory of might, but the vindication of right…””

  1. Hedley Says:

    and we were sitting in Leatherhead thinking that maybe we were going to get it.
    But then the wonderful brilliant Magnetic Fields decided to move their November 15 Michigan show to the Crofoot in Pontiac, oooh about 15 minutes away. Last time Mrs MDH and I had to drive to Columbus.
    So I’m talking by email to Claudia Gonson about rounding up a herd to go. And I am begging her to play this. Please fall in love with the Magnetic Fields

    • katry Says:

      My Dear Hedley,

      It was easy to fall in love with this music and to love their video. Now I’ll look for a bit more and I’ll hunt up some info.

  2. olof1 Says:

    That happened two years before I was born but people talked about it for many years and with admiration for Kennedy. Everyone knew that we wouldn’t be hit by any bomb but that we all would die anyway.

    Grey and cloudy all day today but we had at least no rain, not that I would have noticed, I slept most of the day 🙂

    Have a great day!

    • katry Says:

      We really believed there would be a war with all those nuclear warheads pointed at US cities. It was so horrific that I’ll never forget.

  3. Birgit Says:

    Too young for the Cuban crisis, but when I grew up the cold war and arms race was still severe and every intended or accidental missile launch could mean the end. NATO armed Western Germany was a preferred target for Russian medium-range missiles. Daily paranoia was part of common life and a typical joke was: The Russian invasion will stuck in german traffic jams. Some years ago a now-funny footnote of cold war history emerged: East Germany had a detailed plan how to invade West Germany. Glad we didn’t knew that back then.

    • katry Says:

      The Berlin Wall was an impetus for the rockets in Cuba. As nothing had been done to prevent the building of the wall, Khrushchev figured the US would do nothing about building the installations in Cuba. This lack of action, he hoped, would then allow that invasion of West Germany you mention.

  4. flyboybob Says:

    Like you I remember the Cuban missile crisis as if it was yesterday. I remember walking home from school and thinking that when the bombs came, I was living in NYC, we would be a likely target and I would be vaporized. As a 15 year old kid my biggest worry was that I would die before I had experienced sex. It took a few years longer before I could even get a girl to kiss me. The crisis passed and the Viet Nam war escalated, which was a larger concern as I became eligible for the draft. I avoided the draft but stories of easy sex from young asian prostitutes almost made the idea of going to war palatable. My brain was still maturing even at 18.

    We also practiced duck and cover which always seemed to be a total waste of time unless you lived out in the hinterland on an Indian reservation. We put the Native Americans on land that even the Soviets wouldn’t bomb. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and Khrushchev pulled the missiles out of Cuba and eventually I found a girl that at least let me get to second base 🙂

    Kids today just don’t really understand how close the world came to nuclear disaster and the threat we lived under until the end of the cold war in 1989 when the wall came down.

    • katry Says:

      I knew Boston wasn’t a target but that didn’t make the crisis any less frightening. You reminded me of scenes in some movies where the soldier going off to war (usually WWII) tells the girl he meets he might never come home in hopes she’d give him the best send-off: sex. It didn’t usually work in the movie.

      I was so little when we did duck and cover (7 and 8) I didn’t think of it as a waste of time. It took until I was older to realize the futility.

      The Cold War is just a term in history books for kids today. We lived a huge part of our lives with nuclear warheads in silos and being told we needed all those nuclear weapons as deterrents.

      • Bob Says:

        My favorite movie from that era was, “Dr. Strangelove Or how I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb”. It starred Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Slim Pickens and Kennan Wynn. It still holds up well today.

  5. katry Says:

    That is also one of my favorite movies.

  6. Hedley Says:

    Justin Verlander

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