In the 1950's America was in post WWII mode and had entered into the Nuclear Age. The Civil Defense branch of the government had the task of preparing the population in case of a nuclear bomb. The education was thorough and reached out to all members of society. The school education was the most intensive. There were lessons taught by teachers, school assemblies given by the local Civil Defense, informative movies shown during school hours, on television and at the movie theaters before the main feature. Here is a clip from a 50's film~ the title comes from the instructions we were given: 'Duck and Cover'
In 1963, President Kennedy initiated the Emergency Broadcast System~ an effort to coordinate all the communications systems to enable him to address the entire country should there be a national emergency. Most of us will remember the radio and television programs being interrupted for 35-40 seconds of a high-pitched tone. Afterward the announcement would follow: "This was a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. If this had been an actual emergency... " instructions would have been given as to what action to take... and we would groan because we missed the exciting part of our TV show!
I do not remember any preparations other than the school teaching us the symbol for the Shelter ~a yellow triangle in a circle and how to 'Duck and Cover'. We did learn about the bright 'FLASH' but not a whole lot more than that.There were some who did dig bomb shelters. I remember Rod Serling's 'Twilight Zone' had an interesting episodes titled 'The Shelter' about nuclear war and it's affect on the population and relationships. (Anyone else remember 'Twilight Zone'?)
Knowing what we know now, we laugh at the methods that were taught. We can shake our head and wonder what was everyone thinking. Remember though, the point of the education was not really about safety but about maintaining a quiet more peaceful population. The more people 'understood' and the more they could 'do' the more they felt a little in control and thus a sense of 'peace'.
Growing up in a saturated military area, we knew we were the first line of defense of the country. We were surrounded with all the branches of the military with the Air Force Base being closest. Every now and then they would test the air~raid signals. We could hear them at our house. My Mom would call my Dad (who worked on the base) to see if it was real or a test. Finally, one time Dad said to her, 'Honey~ did you hear the jets scramble? Then it is just a test'
We were also the first line of attack in the event of invasive war. As a child this didn't sink in one day until the children of air force pilots at school were talking. With all our preparedness, I didn't think what the children were discussing affected me. Not until later when my Mom asked if I was OK. "Cuba is going to drop a bomb on Florida and they're going to gas the whole country and we're all gonna DIE!!!" and I burst into tears. My Mom, who was not particularly a woman of faith, said very calmly, 'This cannot happen unless God has it planned'
Instantly I felt the peace of God all over me. It was settled. There was Someone who is bigger and who really is in control. I knew it to be true. And I trusted it. All the training the school had taught only gave a false sense of safety. And deep inside I knew it. Looking back I can see how He was preparing me for this time and this place I am now living. In my own measure as an 8 year old, I understood that God was my 'Shelter' and I was at rest in His shadow. A lesson that continues to this day.
To be continued....