May 5, 2013

IN LIGHT OF THIS AFTERNOON’S POST ABOUT THE WISCONSIN FALLOUT SHELTER DISCOVERY, Popular Mechanics Editor Jim Meigs writes:

The story about the Wisconsin family that discovered a fallout shelter in their backyard shows just how far we’ve come from the days when death by nuclear fallout seemed a very present risk to many American families. That’s a good thing. But the author’s tone, which suggests that such worries were quaint and misguided, reveals a typically modern lack of historical perspective. The various ICBM fields to the west of Wisconsin would have been the focus of massive nuclear attacks in an all-out exchange. Attempting to protect one’s family from the inevitable downwind fallout might have meant accepting long odds, but it certainly wasn’t paranoid or irrational.

Here’s another thing too many people today have forgotten: Those ICBM fields are still there, manned by dedicated airmen of the US Air Force’s Global Strike Command. Two years ago, Joe Pappalardo spent time in one of these bunkers—65 feet underground, in an installation near Great Falls Montana—for a story in Popular Mechanics. It is both sobering and inspiring to realize that US servicemen continue to man a weapons system that everyone in the chain of command profoundly hopes will never be used. To some, deterrence might seem like an outdated concept. But it has worked so far.

Excellent point.

UPDATE: Reader Jon Marr writes:

Regarding the writer’s apparent ignorance of the very real dangers of the time and place when the shelter was built, I’ve always felt the same about how progressives ridicule the pointlessness of ‘duck and cover’. It’s as if they assume everyone is at ground zero rather than living miles away from the blast zone where quickly finding cover and avoiding looking at the blast would save thousands of lives and help hundreds of thousands from being rendered instantly blind. Indeed, fools mock.

Well, yes.

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