Do you remember the Cuban missile crisis?
President Kennedy Addresses Nation
The following information is not specific but rather generalities about one of the most serious events in history.
Communism pushed forward
I will soon be sixty one years old.
I was fortunate enough to be born in the “fun and sun” state of Florida; Miami, Florida.
These two facts will become relevant as this article develops.
Like most “baby boomers” I was born into a world which had just cleaned up fascism in World War II and had made numerous deals with the devil of communism to do so.
German scientist were forced into sort of a “scientific slavery” in what was called, “Operation Paper Clip”. They were brought to the United States in order to help the U.S. conclude the development of the Atomic Bomb which was ultimately used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan and ended the Pacific portion of World War II and the Japanese Empire’s surge throughout the region.
As a result, Communism reared its ugly head throughout the world as the Soviet Union pushed forward to compete for the world’s mind, soul and physical territory.
I grew up in a time without microwave ovens, no color television, the transistor had not yet been invented, most areas only had two or three television channels and it was a rarity for a home to even have a telephone. If you were fortunate enough to have a telephone (and that’s what we called them in those days) most folks could only afford or even get access to what was known as a “party line”. Your house had a phone number which might be yours but you could only answer the phone if you knew “what ring” was yours. You had to know which ring to pick up; usually one to five rings (and there were were no ring tones). If you picked up on a ring that wasn’t yours, you would intrude on someone else’s conversation or they, yours. You never spoke of anything private on the phone in those days. Only the more affluent people actually had “private” lines. I remember when we got ours when I was about fifteen, WOW, what a day!
Air conditioning was also rare. If your church had A/C you usually went just to stay cool; especially in South Florida. Of course, this obviously helped with church attendance.
I also grew up in a time when Wal-mart had never been heard of, Sears was Sears-Roebuck, we had Winn-Dixie, Piggly-Wiggly, A&P and eventually Publix “grocery stores” to purchase our food; which of the many things we eagerly purchased was the new “instant coffee” and “TV dinners”. And in Miami, the home and birth of Burger King (originally called Steak King), we didn’t even know what McDonalds was.
There were no video games, DVDs, DVRs, VCR’s or personal computers. Drive-in movies were the entire craze and many wondered if the normal inside movie theater would even survive.
It was an entirely different day.
R-12 (SS-4 Sandal) Russian Medium Range Ballistic Missile
The Cold War
Even though we didn’t have all that we have today, we knew we still had allot compared to most people in the world. We knew we were blessed to have what we had, thanked God for our freedom and valued our American citizenship.
We were also aware of the dangers of communism and didn’t want anything to do with it. As Americans we fought united the silent war against communism called, “The Cold War”.
My home where I grew up in Miami, Florida was only three blocks from the Opa Locka Naval Air Station and just thirty three miles north of the Homestead Air Force Base which was part of the Strategic Air Command and home to the mighty B-52 Bomber.
I lived one hundred and seventy four miles north of Havana, Cuba; less than five minutes for a Soviet made medium-range ballistic missile.
Cuba had always been intertwined into the South Florida culture. There were Ferries from Miami and Key West, Florida to Havana, Cuba which ran twice daily. You could drive your car onto the Ferry and then drive off and all over the island of Cuba. If you were an American, you didn’t even need a passport; just a U.S. driver’s license. This positive relationship continued until about 1958.
When Fidel Castro started the “People’s Revolution”, he promised to bring real democracy to the Cuban people; which ironically they already had. Just a note and as frightening as this may seem, part of Castro’s campaign included the words of bringing “hope and change” to the Cuban people. Sound familiar?
Castro rose to power and revealed himself to be a true communist. He took over factories, the sugar cane fields, personal property and the entire financial structure and institutions; all American and Western Oil Company and industrial corporations were nationalized.
He then aligned himself with Russia and the Soviet Union and for all intent and purpose became a Soviet State.
At the request of Castro, the Soviet Union began to install missiles aimed directly at the United States and lesser known to most, is the buzzing by Soviet Mig Fighters of the South Florida coast line; so close in fact that many beach goers often reported in detail the jet’s markings. Those with binoculars reported pilots actually waving or in some cases giving them the finger. On several occasions, Soviet and/or Cuban Mig fighter pilots defected and landed at Homestead Air Force Base.
Communism was and remains a horrible and unrealistic philosophy and form of government.
The Cuban people had been fooled by a young, idealistic demagogue seeking power and popularity. Thousands who realized their dilemma, began coming to America anyway they could. Rafts or large inner tubes were the most common means of transport with hopes that an American ship or boat would pick them up and take them to the safety of America.
Cuban Missile Crisis Poll
Do you remember the Cuban missile crisis?
Thirteen Dangerous Days
The Cuban Missile crisis resulted from the Soviet Union eying the United States as its next prize in its ultimate goal of world domination and Cuba simply being a stopping off point on the way to that prize.
The Cuban Missile Crisis began on July 27, 1962 when Fidel Castro announced that Cuba, with help from the Soviet Union would defend itself from any attempt by the United States to invade Cuba. The irony of course, was that the United States was already there.
The relationship with the United States continued with the blessing of Castro (not wanting to lose American dollars) in allowing the U.S.A. to maintain a Caribbean presence with Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. This was despite the dissatisfaction of the Soviet Union. This alone was a demonstration to the Soviet Union that Fidel Castro was his own person and not necessarily a “Soviet team player”. This would later become beneficial in American diplomacy.
On October 14, 1962, a U-2 high altitude reconnaissance aircraft confirmed six short range missile bases. This was followed on October 21, by President John F. Kennedy issuing a naval quarantine of the entire nation of Cuba to guard against further military buildup or delivery of more missiles by the Soviet Union.
After some of the most serious posturing in the cold war and nearly starting a nuclear World War III, the Cuban missile crisis came to an end on October 28, 1962 with Premier Nikita Khrushchev announcing removal of their missiles from Cuba and the United States removing missiles from Turkey.
As an eleven year old boy, it was one of the scariest times of my life. I remember my Dad and I standing out in the front yard of our Miami home looking up at the sky as we watched the B-52’s fly over getting ready to land. We saw thousands of troops in convoys moving throughout our area. Portable missile launchers were rolling into vacant land around the two large air bases and it was evident that something was about to happen. We apparently were getting ready for war.
Nuclear blast drills at school increased from weekly to daily and as we left for school each morning for those “thirteen days the world stood still”, we wondered if we would be coming home in the afternoon to see our families.
That’s my memory; what is yours or were you even around for “the thirteen days the world stood still?”
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