My local NPR station has been running a month long series about John F Kennedy on the 50th anniversary of his assassination. One of the things they have covered was the Cuban Missile Crisis. This is probably little more than a historical footnote for most people under 55 but it is a memory for me. I was 9 at the time.
Now 9 is pretty young and I sure didn’t understand everything that was going on. I was pretty much unaware of the events of the Bay of Pigs Invasion that was probably part of the reason the Soviets were able to send the missiles to Cuba in the first place. But the news reports and the analysis on TV about the missiles was enough to get me concerned even at that age.
I remember coming home from school to watch the news everyday during the crisis. I listed to the president’s addresses to the nation. I listened to the analysis on the news. It wasn’t quite like the 24 hour over and over news and speculation that we have today but there was a good amount of talk.
These were the days when schools ran “duck and cover” drills in case of atomic attack so even as a young student the idea of a nuclear attack was real in our eyes and ears. Atomic weapons were not quite seen as the weapon of last resort that they are today. From what I know now there were military advisors recommending a nuclear attack on Cuba at the time. It was a different time.
So I did worry about atomic tipped missiles hitting New York City were I was living. I wasn’t panicked or anything that over the top but I was concerned. There hasn’t been anything like that in my life since and I sure am glad of that.