Reliving the Threat of Nuclear War

Do We Need to Worry About North Korea Anymore?

From my perch in Alaska, I can tell you that the denuclearization of North Korea, if it happens, could bring some welcome relief. No more low-grade worry about the possibility of a surprise attack.

For much of my life, we have lived with the threat of a nuclear strike.

As a child during the Cold War, I knew the Soviets were our enemies but I did not fully grasp the threat of nuclear war.

We were children when a public service announcement interrupted Leave It to Beaver to advise us how we could survive.

Photo: Nancy Peckenham

“Duck and cover?” No problem, we could make it through a war. Piece of cake.

Authorities must have known that an arm thrown over the head of a quivering little body would not shield it from radiation’s harm, so they began telling Americans to build underground bomb shelters. News accounts described the foresight of a few families who were ready if they dropped “the bomb.”

Photo: National Archives

No one in our neighborhood had a fallout shelter in their basement but as a carefree kid I assumed luck would shield me from sudden doom.

Let the government leaders worry about the Soviets’ blustery pledge to destroy the United States.

Soviet propaganda on display at the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site. Photo: Nancy Peckenham

The U.S. government used the media to get out the message of how to survive a nuclear attack.

Photo: Nancy Peckenham

They packaged up water, food and essential supplies, like plenty of toilet paper and 80 commode seats.

Survival supplies from the Office of Civil Defense. Photo: Nancy Peckenham

Little did we know as we fantasized about the great Soviet menace that the greatest chance of nuclear holocaust came from the very guys we were counting on to help us survive. U.S. Airforce bomber crews were running to their planes one November morning forty years ago, ready to drop nuclear warheads on the Soviets, when the high command learned it was a false alarm. Whew!

The Cold War was bad enough without human error. We needed détente, and then disarmament if we were going to survive.

So what’s up with North Korea?

Just six months after they tested a long-range missile that could hit Alaska, the country’s leader is our new “frenemy.”

Can we fill our remaining bomb shelters full of concrete and move ahead in peace?

Written by

TV, print and online journalist. Mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend, adventurer, history-lover. and

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