My father was a B52 pilot in U.S. Air Force when I was young, and he was always gone for days at a time, which I did not understand. We lived in Texas in 1967, and they would test the alert sirens, which they used for tornadoes and other things. I had sinus trouble, so those types of noises would hurt my ears. I asked my mother once why we had to hear those sirens, and she said that they were to warn us of tornadoes and Nuclear Attack. When I asked her what a "Nuclear Attack" is, she said "In case the Russians fly over and bomb us". Well, I didn't know what Russians were, but she explained that they were the enemy. She did not know that children have many fears, and those fears manifest themselves only at night. I woke up screaming because I imagined bombers flying over with Russians in them looking down smiling because they got to bomb us (I imagined them looking like the "Mr. Clean" guy from the detergent bottle--I don't know why!). I could not understand then why they could do that. Later that day, my mom and I were driving and I looked up and saw a flight of aircraft going over (not knowing they were ours) and I pointed and said "Look mom, Russians!". Well, I grew up, joined the military, learned to prepare for war against the Communists, and then left the service later. I recently met a penpal on the internet who commanded a Soviet Rocket Launcher Squad, and we have become good friends. I hope to visit him and discuss military tactics someday, but mostly, to discuss how we each wasted our youth learning to hate each other. I would like to hope that the next time war becomes imminent, it will be the penpals who influence the continuance of politics through peaceful means.
By Scott Clark