It was not so long before when the U.S., the only country in history ever to do so, had actually used nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We knew what those places had experienced. We knew the deadly consequences visited on generations yet to come, yet we kept building up the stockpiles. Both countries were bristling with missiles.
After the Cubans overthrew their oppressive U.S. backed dictator, Bautista, U.S. relations soured with the now communist country. (Like we didn't see that coming!) An abortive U.S. backed raid known as the Bay of Pigs Invasion spurred further enmity and Cuba called in mother Russia for help. The Russians set up nuclear missile sites in Cuba, aimed at the U.S. When these were discovered, President Kennedy set up a naval blockade of Cuba to prevent any more missiles coming in. There was a tense standoff for two weeks, then it was resolved diplomatically.
For those two weeks, we lived in hell. I stockpiled food and water in a closet. I knew it was useless and would all be spoiled by fallout if they ever did exchange nuclear fire, but it was all I could do. I dreamed we all went outdoors and looked into the sky and someone had shot a big chunk out of the moon. I thought in the dream, "Now I will never see my grandchildren." I was 23 years old at the time. Odd that having grandchildren was my primary concern! In the dream, both sides were equally at fault for the damaged sky, as they would have been.
As it turned out, both sides were responsible, period. Diplomatic agreements settled the problem after all. Mssrs. Kruschev and Kennedy behaved well in the end. The moon is in one piece and I have lived to welcome eleven grandchildren.
We are now in another precarious time as a nation. It doesn't involve the old enemy from the past, but rather our own blindness. Groups of people within the country have poisoned themselves with hatred and fear and are spreading it like homemade jam on a fresh baked biscuit. They are intoxicated with themselves and the power they have to derail the common good of the nation in order to spread their own agenda. There is religious intolerance and racial intolerance and political intolerance and just plain stupidity driving it. They are behaving as irrationally as ravening junkyard dogs. They admittedly would rather see the nation fail than have their duly elected opposition succeed. It is a time as frightening to me as those days of the missile crisis.
This time stockpiling food will not make me feel better or more hopeful. I am not hopeful. I am wondering if my oldest granddaughter, now almost the age I was when the missile crisis scared me out of my wits, will live to see her grandchildren, or even graduate from college, which is surely her current goal.
I am wondering if there are any diplomats left.