Posted tagged ‘Cuban missile crisis’

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

October 23, 2012

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.

“We’re eyeball to eyeball, and I think the other fellow just blinked.”

July 26, 2010

The morning is a delight. The humidity is gone, and the breeze, if you’re sitting in the shade, is a bit chilly. I lingered on the deck a long while this morning, and it was a spawn of Satan who had my full attention. He was building a nest. I watched him chew off small oak branches and jump from limb to limb. All the while he was trying to keep the oak branch steady in his mouth until he reached a topmost cluster of two pine branches where he disappeared. I got my telephoto lens and was able to watch him hustle about arranging the leaves. He did this several times and I never tired of watching him. I actually looked up squirrels to find out it is the male who constructs and the female who feeds. Come to find out squirrels are polygamists, and males will take care of several females.

Tonight will be in the low 60’s. It’s movie night because of the rain yesterday. I’m thinking a sweatshirt and my chiminea lit to ward off the chill. Nothing sweetens the air like the smell of pinon wood burning.

Despite duck and cover, I was never afraid as a little kid. The idea of a devastating bomb didn’t make a big impression. It was even fun to have those drills. We used to look at each other from under our desks and try to smile and wave without getting caught. It was the Cuban missile crisis which scared me. By then I was old enough to understand. I remember watching President Kennedy on a flickering black and white TV screen as he explained the quarantine, the naval blockade, and the ultimatums he was giving Russia. We all held our breaths for those thirteen days knowing that a nuclear war was a possibility. Nobody practiced duck and cover. We knew better.

When I went to Russia in the 1970’s, one of the places we visited was the graveyard where Nikita Khrushchev was buried. It was part of the tour, and in those days you couldn’t travel in Russia unless you were on a tour. In that graveyard, each of the tombstones had a picture of the deceased attached. Nikita’s picture was black and white, and he was wearing a suit. He had a huge grin.


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