In 1962, I was where souls linger before they are born.
55 years ago this coming October, living souls on this Earth were edging closer to their own demise, the worst moments of the Cuban Missile Crisis were well under way, and I’m two years away from any existence at all.
It’s weird to think of yourself as possibly annihilated by atomic bombs even before you have taken your first breath, but that is where the world was more than half century ago, so many of us here, now, were not then, and but for two men who knew when to think and when to blink, none of what we now call life would have ever come to pass.
I am not wholly on the side of the US on this one, for if you put missiles in Turkey that can hit Moscow in 15 minutes, how far-fetched is it to realize that Russia would want to do the same in Cuba? And I will never sway from my belief that if the US had encouraged better economic ties with Castro when he made that United Nations, New York visit, Khrushchev would have never been Fidel’s Golden Goose.
The US made an enemy where none needed to be, and forever gave a strategic gem to Russia. I will never understand why the States gave up such a close island to their arch nemesis. It was short-sighted. It was irresponsible. It was ludicrous. And I don’t know who to blame for it more: Eisenhower or Nixon. One wonders if Ike had got his butt off the golf course long enough to talk with Castro himself instead of allowing Tricky Dick to handle the visit, Ike might have not publicly labelled Fidel a “Communist” like Dick did and we’d all be better off for it. It doesn’t seem quite fair to lay all the blame at Nixon’s feet either, but for some unknown reason (wry statement just made there) wherever Dick landed, bad crap happened…wadyagonnado?
I’ve recently listened to declassified tapes that were made during the Ex-Com meetings in the White house in those harried 13 days, and I must say, the tension in Kennedy’s voice is palpable. He asks direct questions of his advisors and they answer in short, facts-only staccato sentences, everyone realizing that all roads, as were first investigated, were leading down the path to mutual destruction and world end.
Special Assistant and family friend to the President, Kenny O’Donnell, asked Bobby what plans were being put in place for their families should the White house Staff be evacuated with the President in a time of attack. Bobby outlined that there would be ID cards issued to the family members and that they would all meet up at a pre-arranged military base, then hesitated, and added (paraphrased), “Well, you know, that’s all just for morale. They [Cuban missiles after being launched] will arrive in Washington DC in just five minutes.”
I try, yet I cannot truly fathom, what those men were going through in those 13 days and nights, those protracted and torturous moments and minutes, knowing full well as Defense Secretary Robert McNamara pondered as he stood outside the oval office on one of those nights, this sunset might be the last I’ll ever see. One can say think such devastating thoughts but do they actually sink in, I wonder? Maybe Kennedy’s and Khrushchev’s men were the only people on the face of the earth who had it sink in, and for that I imagine, ignorance is truly bliss.
One could surely slough off this coming anniversary, saying, hey, that was forever-ago, it has nothing to do with our 21 century reality now…but one wonders…given today’s current political climate…
With North Korea shooting off glorified tin cans conjured up in hap-hazard missile silos pointed at just about any country they can reach, we could be facing another 13 days if the oriental Pillsbury Doughboy ever gets it right. And with today’s communication technology, would 13 days shrink down to 13 minutes, and if so, could our leaders make reasoned decisions with no time to cool down, no time to Big Picture think, so 55 years hence, our grandchildren can be alive to say our generation made as wise a decision to avoid mutual assured destruction as Kennedy and Khrushchev?
Khrushchev, although a Communist dictator, had the cultural and moral upbringing of Old World Europeans and knew the value of life. Can we say the same for the North Korea and the Muslim extremists around the world, who believe that to fight their “Infidels” and die trying is still of the highest honour? And do we want such fanatics in possession of the atomic bomb, who think this Life is worth destroying for the next?
When is enough, enough?
And when do extremist dictators ever listen to anything but brute force anyways?
I am not a war monger but I can honestly say that my patience is running thin on Iran and North Korea. If the US Defence Department knows the locations of Iran’s centrifuges and/or ever knows the exact whereabouts of Kim Jong-Un, should we not send a strike force to bomb said into oblivion, now, before they achieve nuclear success?
With North Korea shooting off glorified tin cans conjured up in hap-hazard missile silos pointed at just about any country they can reach, we could be facing another 13 days if the oriental Pillsbury Dough-boy ever gets it right. And with today’s communication technology, would 13 days shrink down to 13 minutes, and if so, could our leaders make reasoned decisions with no time to cool down, no time to Big Picture think, so 55 years hence, our grandchildren
Maybe the 55th anniversary of the Missile Crisis is coming at the right time, to remind the leaders of today that the 13 days of Old could well become the 13 minutes of Now, and 55 years in or not, time is always of the essence and Life is always worth preserving and protecting.