From Our Chaplain’s Heart to Yours

Wednesday, October 24th, 2018

Fifty six years ago, on October 23, 1963, the world came as close as it ever has to an all out nuclear war when President John F. Kennedy announced to the world that Russia had built missile pads in Cuba. The missile pads, ninety miles from U.S. shores, were capable of firing Russian nuclear warheads. President Kennedy ordered an air and sea blockade of Cuba, and in turn Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev declared that the United States was moving toward World War III.

 
I can remember all of this because I had just turned twelve, and for thirteen days the whole country watched the eastern skies expecting to see a mushroom shaped cloud at any minute.  On October 14, 1947, Chuck Yeager, every American boy’s hero, broke what is called the sound barrier creating unlimited possibilities for speed.  The problem in those days was that every plane breaking the sound barrier caused a sonic boom that crackled through the air, shaking and rattling windows and even buildings.  In the sixties, each boom was thought to be bringing us closer to a nuclear meltdown.  For the first times since World War II the civil defense sirens, tested at noon on the last Friday of the month, were taken seriously.  Children were taught to get under their desks and put their hands over their heads (duck and cover was the official term).  So if a bomb was dropped on our school, we were told that the top of our desks and our hands would keep our heads perfectly safe.  Have you ever seen the underside of a school desk?  It is covered with enough old hardened gum that it might very well be the one thing in the world capable of withstanding a nuclear attack.
 
At home government plans were available giving simple instructions on how to build your very own backyard fallout shelter.  My dad got his hands on a set of these plans and with the help of a friend and his backhoe we set out to defend ourselves from the Russians.  I was twelve, Doug was ten, Randy was eight, Waide was six, and Janice was…well, she was just a girl.  Dad handed out different-sized shovels according to our age and size.  There was always some dispute as to which one of us was the oldest and should get the biggest shovel.  I was the oldest but my brothers never cold get that through their thick heads.  
 
After the hole was dug, we framed for the floor and poured the concrete.  After it was dried, we built the walls out of cinder blocks and then framed for the concrete ceiling and ventilation system.  Dad taught me how to mix mortar, and Doug ran the wheelbarrow.  Randy and Waide dept up the supply of cinder blocks, and Janice…well, she was just a girl.  When we were finished we had a nuclear secure place to hide if the “big one” were to ever be dropped on Amarillo, Texas.  As it turned out, we four boys had a whole lot more to deal with by referring to sister Janice as, “just a girl” than we ever did with the Russians.  In fact, to my knowledge, there has never been a nuclear explosion in the backyard of that house on Nelson Street.
 
Because of the steadfast resolve of President Kennedy, we never had to use the fallout shelter for its intended purpose.  We did however have a clubhouse for us kids, a patio for our picnic table, a place to skate, and a wonderful place to have sleepovers during the summer.  In other words, it helped, in many ways, to bring us together as a family.  Thanks Dad!
 
2 Samuel 22:2-5 says; And David spake unto the Lord the words of this song in the day that the Lord had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul.  And he said; The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer.  The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence.  I will call on the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies. 
 
As always I am praying for you!
Chaplain Jeff