Russia never seems to go away… | News, Sports, Jobs

When I was a young boy growing up in suburban San Diego in the 1950s and 1960s, we never did a tornado drill like kids did in the Midwest. Not even once.

We did, however, practice earthquake drills. This was California, after all, and we felt one from time to time. Our exercise involved leaving the classroom to go outside if there was time, or getting under our desks with our arms above our heads if there was no time.

Like all school children around the world, we practiced fire drills, which were similar to earthquake drills but slower and more orderly. Fires can last for some time; earthquakes are over in seconds, so speed is key.

Unlike children today, we have never practiced an exercise in armed intrusion. At the time, there was no need. Unfortunately, in the world we live in, it is required in all American schools.

It is a sad commentary on what is happening in our country.

But, I digress.

Another exercise we practiced was what I remember as the nuclear bomb exercise. It may have been just an air raid exercise, but I remember it as preparation for a nuclear war, and it caused a lot of worry among young people like me.

I was born just five years after the United States dropped those two atomic bombs on Japan in August 1945, ending World War II.

Now I freely admit that I am not a historian, but for some reason a so-called “Cold War” had developed between the Soviet Union (Russia) and the United States. This is despite the fact that the Soviet Union was an ally of the United States and Britain in the war against Nazi Germany and the Axis powers during World War II.

The Cold War involved both the United States and the Soviet Union in a race to build powerful weapons of mass destruction. Yeah, nuclear bombs and the missiles to launch them.

Throughout my life, the Soviet Union, now Russia, has been a constant threat to America, it seems.

I remember the leader of the Russian Communist Party, Nikita Khrushchev, kicking his shoe on the UN podium in New York in October 1960, and trying to threaten the world, especially America.

And the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the Russians were building a nuclear missile site just 90 miles from Florida and President John Kennedy issued an ultimatum to the Soviet Union and Khrushchev backed down.

It was 1962, and we were practicing our school atomic/nuclear bomb drills a lot during that showdown. And some of my neighbors were building fallout shelters in their backyards. It was as close as ever in history that the Cold War was to going to nuclear war.

Again, pretty scary for anyone, especially a 12 year old.

Then there was President Ronald Reagan’s famous speech in 1987 in front of the Berlin Wall, saying: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall! Gorbachev was General Secretary to Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union, another chilling Russian leader.

The Berlin Wall was built in 1961 and divided the German city of Berlin into two parts, east and west, just as the whole German country was divided after World War II. The Soviet Union controlled the eastern part of Germany, and the United States and Britain the western parts. Now, of course, Germany is a country again.

Now Russia is at it again, invading Ukraine and making all sorts of veiled threats. I don’t need to tell you about this one, because you see it unfold before your eyes on television every day and every night.

I often thought that there was a possibility of harmony between the Russian people and the American people. Heck, my mum even took a long trip to Russia and found the people there welcoming and friendly.

But somehow their rulers have been anything but friendly for the past 70 years (or more, dating back to the days of Russian czars, Stalin and Lenin).

I also remember a 1966 movie called “The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming.” It’s about a Soviet submarine stranded off the coast of New England and how the locals help free and return it. It showed that people are people no matter where they come from.

I must admit that I liked this film in 1966.

It did little to stop the Cold War or improve US-Russian relations. On the other hand, maybe it did a little. But only a little.

The Soviet Union/Russia has been a big concern for my baby boomer generation all our lives. And this concern never seems to completely disappear.

Maybe one day…

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