October 27, 1962: Black Saturday

 

October 27, 1962 has gone down in history as Black Saturday.  Three events pushed the world to the very brink of nuclear war.

Major Rudolph Anderson was shot down and killed during a U-2 flight over Cuba.  He was posthumously decorated with the Air Force Cross, the second highest decoration for valor in the United States Air Force.  Soviet Premier Khrushchev was furious when he heard about the shoot down and ordered that no further US planes were to be downed except on personal orders from him.  Here is the citation for Major Anderson.

 

 

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, United States Code, takes pride in presenting the Air Force Cross (Posthumously) to Major Rudolf Anderson Jr., United States Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving as Pilot of a U-2 airplane with the 4080th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, Strategic Air Command (SAC), from 15 October 1962 to 27 October 1962. During this period of great national crisis, Major Anderson, flying an unescorted, unarmed aircraft, lost his life while participating in one of several aerial reconnaissance missions over Cuba. While executing these aerial missions, Major Anderson made photographs which provided the United States government with conclusive evidence of the introduction of long-range offensive missiles into Cuba and which materially assisted our leaders in charting the nation’s military and diplomatic course. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of the enemy, Major Anderson reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

The second event occurred when the US destroyer the USS Beale, enforcing the Cuban blockade, dropped warning non-explosive depth charges on nuclear armed Soviet Sub B-59.  The commander of the sub, thinking his ship was doomed, wanted to launch a nuclear torpedo at a nearby US carrier.  The launch required the concurrence of three officers. Captain  Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov, who would eventually rise to Vice Admiral in the Soviet Navy, refused to agree and probably saved the world from nuclear annihilation.

The third event involved another U-2 flight became lost and flew into Soviet air space.  Chased by Soviet fighters he flew to Alaska, with the US scrambling nuclear armed fighters.  Ironically, the events of the day probably helped ensure a peaceful resolution of the crisis, convincing both Kennedy and Khrushchev that the situation was careening out of control and that the standoff had to end if nuclear war were to be averted.

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October 22, 1962: Cuban Missile Crisis Speech

 

The world came very close to nuclear war just over half a century back.  The above video is of the speech that President Kennedy gave fifty-nine years ago on October 22, 1962.  Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev in placing nuclear missiles in Cuba brought the world to the brink.  The crisis was ultimately resolved with the removal of the Soviet missiles in exchange for two  agreements between the US and the Soviet Union:  1.  No invasion of Cuba by the US and 2.  The removal of obsolete American Jupiter nuclear missiles from Turkey and Southern Italy.  Unsurprisingly the US kept secret the removal of the Jupiter missiles.  Surprisingly the Soviets also kept mum about the removal of the Jupiter missiles which led to the perception abroad and within the Soviet Union that Khrushchev had lost his confrontation with Kennedy, and paved the way for the Central Committee coup led by Leonid Brezhnev which toppled  Khrushchev from power in October 1964.  Here is the text of the speech: (more…)

Published in: on October 22, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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November 15, 1945: Declaration on the Atomic Bomb

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In the aftermath of World War II one of the many pressing issues confronting Harry Truman was the future of atomic weapons and atomic energy.  One of the first moves was made 70 years ago when a joint declaration by Truman and the Prime Ministers of the UK and Canada made it clear that there would be no rapid disclosure of the technology for the industrial uses of atomic energy for fear that this information could lead to the construction of additional atomic bombs by nations eager to  break the US monopoly.  Instead the declaration recommended that a UN commission be set up to give recommendations on the spread of nuclear technology and the elimination of nuclear weapons.  With 70 years of hindsight, the faith in the United Nations seems both stunning and absurd, as does the idea that the “secret” of constructing atomic bombs would long remain a “secret”, Stalin’s spies having long since supplied the Soviets with detailed information on the Manhattan Project.  Here is the text of the Declaration:

Washington, November 15, 1945

The President of the United States, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and the Prime Minister of Canada, have issued the following statement:

 

(1) We recognize that the application of recent scientific discoveries to the methods and practice of war has placed at the disposal of mankind means of destruction hitherto unknown, against which there can be no adequate military defense, and in the employment of which no single nation can in fact have a monopoly. (more…)

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July 24, 1959: The Kitchen Debate

 

Hard to believe that it is 57 years since the Kitchen Debate between Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschchev.  The US scored one of the biggest propaganda coups of the Cold War by building a typical American house, cut in half for easy viewing, at the American National Exhibit at Sokolniki Park in Moscow in 1959.  This was part of an agreement where the Soviet staged an exhibit in New York the same year.  Ordinary Soviets flocked to see it and were awed at the technology in the house featuring the latest labor saving and recreational devices in 1959.  They were floored at the contention of the Americans that this was a typical house that an average American could afford.  The impromptu debate between Khruschchev redounded greatly to the benefit of Nixon who came across to American audiences as an able champion of their cause.  Khruschchev was also impressed by Nixon, so much so that he later claimed that he did everything in his power to defeat Nixon when Nixon ran for President in 1960. (more…)

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March 5, 1946: Churchill Delivers Iron Curtain Speech

 

Seventy-four years ago Winston Churchill delivered what is remembered as his “Iron Curtain” speech, although Churchill referred to it as his “Sinews of Peace” speech.  Invited to speak at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri by President Truman, Churchill, out of power since the defeat of his Conservative Party at the polls in 1945, had looked on developments in Europe with growing alarm as the Soviets installed puppet regimes throughout Eastern Europe.  Harry Truman, also convinced that it was impossible to work with Stalin, warmly applauded the speech.  The Cold War had been waged by the Soviets since before the last shots had been fired of World War II.  Now the West would begin to fight back.  Here is the text of the speech:

 

President McCluer, ladies and gentlemen, and last, but certainly not least, the President of the United States of America:

I am very glad indeed to come to Westminster College this afternoon, and I am complimented that you should give me a degree from an institution whose reputation has been so solidly established. The name “Westminster” somehow or other seems familiar to me. I feel as if I have heard of it before. Indeed now that I come to think of it, it was at Westminster that I received a very large part of my education in politics, dialectic, rhetoric, and one or two other things. In fact we have both been educated at the same, or similar, or, at any rate, kindred establishments. (more…)

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One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

“They were a luckless lot too. What harm did they do anyone by praying to God? Every man Jack of ’em given twenty-five years.”
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

 

 

The things that you find on the internet.  From 1963, broadcast on the anthology series Bob Hope Presents The Chrysler Theater, a televised adaptation of Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s searing masterpiece, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. Considering that the book, based on Solzhenitsyn’s experiences in the Soviet Gulag from 1945-1953, was published only in 1962 this was a rapid transition to television, attesting to the immense impact of the book.

Published in: on December 30, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich  
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July 21, 1969: That’s One small Step for Man. One Giant Leap for Mankind.

 

Fifty years ago men first set foot on the Moon.  A little bit over six and a half hours after the Eagle had landed, at 2: 56 UTC time, on July 21, 1969, Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon saying:  That’s One small Step for Man. One Giant Leap for Mankind.  (Armstrong said that he stated for a man, but the a is not audible.)   Aldrin’s first words on the Moon were:  “Beautiful view”, to which Armstrong responded “Isn’t that something? Magnificent sight out here.” Aldrin answered, “Magnificent desolation.”

Seven minutes after setting foot on the Moon, Armstrong took a soil sample.  The planting of the American flag in the Lunar dust presented some difficulties, with the sharp edges of Lunar dust resisting the driving of the flag pole into the surface.  However, it was accomplished and the astronauts saluted Old Glory.  They then received a call from President Nixon:

Nixon: Hello, Neil and Buzz. I’m talking to you by telephone from the Oval Room at the White House. And this certainly has to be the most historic telephone call ever made. I just can’t tell you how proud we all are of what you’ve done. For every American, this has to be the proudest day of our lives. And for people all over the world, I am sure they too join with Americans in recognizing what an immense feat this is. Because of what you have done, the heavens have become a part of man’s world. And as you talk to us from the Sea of Tranquility, it inspires us to redouble our efforts to bring peace and tranquility to Earth. For one priceless moment in the whole history of man, all the people on this Earth are truly one: one in their pride in what you have done, and one in our prayers that you will return safely to Earth.

Armstrong: Thank you, Mr. President. It’s a great honor and privilege for us to be here, representing not only the United States, but men of peace of all nations, and with interest and curiosity, and men with a vision for the future. It’s an honor for us to be able to participate here today.

They then deployed the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package which would conduct various passive experiments.  Armstrong and Aldrin then collected 47.5 pounds of soil and rock samples.  The rock samples included three hitherto undiscovered minerals.  Interestingly enough, the newly found minerals were also later discovered on  Earth.  They then reboarded the Eagle, having been on the surface for slightly more than two hours, slept for seven hours, and at 17:54:00 UTC, the Eagle blasted off to rendezvous with the Columbia being flown by Michael Collins.  The Eagle rejoined the Columbia at 21:24 UTC. Eagles ascent stage was jettisoned  at 23:41.  All told the Eagle had been on the Lunar surface for 21 hours and 36 minutes.  The plague below was left behind which read:

Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon, July 1969, A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.

The Soviets that same day attempted to land the unmanned Lunar 15 on the Moon, but it crashed into a mountain in the Mare Crisum.

 

 

 

Published in: on July 21, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on July 21, 1969: That’s One small Step for Man. One Giant Leap for Mankind.  
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July 20, 1969: Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.

 

 

 

Fifty years ago on July 20, 1969 Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to land a  craft on the moon.  As the Eagle descended from Columbia, Armstrong noted that the projected landing site was strewn with boulders, and he began maneuvering the craft to find an area clear of boulders. The Eagle landed in a clear patch with 90 seconds of propellant left.

Two and a half hours later, before they went outside, Aldrin made this statement:  This is the LM pilot. I’d like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way.  A Presbyterian, Aldrin then ate bread and drank wine in a Presbyterian communion service, the wine and bread having been prepared by his pastor.  NASA, afraid of atheist law suits, requested that Aldrin not broadcast what he was doing, and he did not.

Armstrong and Aldrin were scheduled to sleep for five hours before leaving Eagle and walking on the Moon.  They realized that efforts to sleep would be futile, and they began preparations immediately for their Moon walk.  Tomorrow would be a big day for them.

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July 19, 1969: In Orbit Around the Moon

Fifty years ago Columbia arrived at the Moon.  As the craft passed behind the Moon and fired its service propulsion engine to enter lunar orbit.  Thirty orbits of the Moon followed, with the crew getting ready for the landing of The Eagle next day, and making visual inspection of the Southern Sea of Tranquility where the landing was scheduled to take place.  The Americans were not alone as they orbited the moon.  The Soviet Lunar 15 was also orbiting the Moon.  An unmanned craft, the Soviets hoped to land it on the Moon, take samples of soil from the Moon, and then have it fly back to Mother Russia, and steal some of the luster from the American achievement.  The Space Race had begun as a product of the Cold War, and it was ending in the same fashion.

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May 25, 1961: Man on the Moon Speech

One of more spectacular kept promises of an American President since World War II.  Tragically JFK would not be alive to see a Americans set foot on the moon in 1969, but with this speech he set the process in motion:

Finally, if we are to win the battle that is now going on around the world between freedom and tyranny, the dramatic achievements in space which occurred in recent weeks should have made clear to us all, as did the Sputnik in 1957, the impact of this adventure on the minds of men everywhere, who are attempting to make a determination of which road they should take. Since early in my term, our efforts in space have been under review. With the advice of the Vice President, who is Chairman of the National Space Council, we have examined where we are strong and where we are not, where we may succeed and where we may not. Now it is time to take longer strides–time for a great new American enterprise–time for this nation to take a clearly leading role in space achievement, which in many ways may hold the key to our future on earth.

I believe we possess all the resources and talents necessary. But the facts of the matter are that we have never made the national decisions or marshaled the national resources required for such leadership. We have never specified long-range goals on an urgent time schedule, or managed our resources and our time so as to insure their fulfillment.

Recognizing the head start obtained by the Soviets with their large rocket engines, which gives them many months of lead-time, and recognizing the likelihood that they will exploit this lead for some time to come in still more impressive successes, we nevertheless are required to make new efforts on our own. For while we cannot guarantee that we shall one day be first, we can guarantee that any failure to make this effort will make us last. We take an additional risk by making it in full view of the world, but as shown by the feat of astronaut Shepard, this very risk enhances our stature when we are successful. But this is not merely a race. Space is open to us now; and our eagerness to share its meaning is not governed by the efforts of others. We go into space because whatever mankind must undertake, free men must fully share.

I therefore ask the Congress, above and beyond the increases I have earlier requested for space activities, to provide the funds which are needed to meet the following national goals:

First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish. We propose to accelerate the development of the appropriate lunar space craft. We propose to develop alternate liquid and solid fuel boosters, much larger than any now being developed, until certain which is superior. We propose additional funds for other engine development and for unmanned explorations–explorations which are particularly important for one purpose which this nation will never overlook: the survival of the man who first makes this daring flight. But in a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the moon–if we make this judgment affirmatively, it will be an entire nation. For all of us must work to put him there.

Secondly, an additional 23 million dollars, together with 7 million dollars already available, will accelerate development of the Rover nuclear rocket. This gives promise of some day providing a means for even more exciting and ambitious exploration of space, perhaps beyond the moon, perhaps to the very end of the solar system itself.

Third, an additional 50 million dollars will make the most of our present leadership, by accelerating the use of space satellites for world-wide communications.

Fourth, an additional 75 million dollars–of which 53 million dollars is for the Weather Bureau–will help give us at the earliest possible time a satellite system for world-wide weather observation.

Let it be clear–and this is a judgment which the Members of the Congress must finally make–let it be clear that I am asking the Congress and the country to accept a firm commitment to a new course of action, a course which will last for many years and carry very heavy costs: 531 million dollars in fiscal ’62–an estimated 7 to 9 billion dollars additional over the next five years. If we are to go only half way, or reduce our sights in the face of difficulty, in my judgment it would be better not to go at all.

Now this is a choice which this country must make, and I am confident that under the leadership of the Space Committees of the Congress, and the Appropriating Committees, that you will consider the matter carefully.

It is a most important decision that we make as a nation. But all of you have lived through the last four years and have seen the significance of space and the adventures in space, and no one can predict with certainty what the ultimate meaning will be of mastery of space.

I believe we should go to the moon. But I think every citizen of this country as well as the Members of the Congress should consider the matter carefully in making their judgment, to which we have given attention over many weeks and months, because it is a heavy burden, and there is no sense in agreeing or desiring that the United States take an affirmative position in outer space, unless we are prepared to do the work and bear the burdens to make it successful. If we are not, we should decide today and this year.

This decision demands a major national commitment of scientific and technical manpower, materiel and facilities, and the possibility of their diversion from other important activities where they are already thinly spread. It means a degree of dedication, organization and discipline which have not always characterized our research and development efforts. It means we cannot afford undue work stoppages, inflated costs of material or talent, wasteful interagency rivalries, or a high turnover of key personnel.

New objectives and new money cannot solve these problems. They could in fact, aggravate them further–unless every scientist, every engineer, every serviceman, every technician, contractor, and civil servant gives his personal pledge that this nation will move forward, with the full speed of freedom, in the exciting adventure of space.

 

Published in: on July 15, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on May 25, 1961: Man on the Moon Speech  
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