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Oh Superman where are you now?
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Most of the time I can convince myself that I have a young perspective on society and life in general. But then something happens that makes my generational gap as obvious as an elephant in the room. That something happened last week when President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a nuclear weapons reduction treaty.
The treaty itself was not the catalyst to my age revelation, but rather the difference in my reaction as compared to my daughter’s.
When I read that Obama and Medvedev put their political and social ideals into action — although I’m pretty sure our remaining 1,550 nukes would be plenty lethal enough to destroy life as we know it — I was elated. While it’s a baby step toward a nuke-free world, it’s still progress. Growing up during the Cold War, the threat of nuclear obliteration was a constant thought in the back of my mind. The images of Genesis’’ “Land of Confusion” music video — a 1986 video which features a caricatured puppet of then President Ronald Reagan having a nightmare about war and ends with him accidentally pushing the “Nuke” button — still haunts my dreams.
While today I can appreciate the pre-”Daily Show” satire of the popular MTV video, as a youth I was disturbed at the thought of our president being dazed and confused and starting World War III purely by accident.
My elation at the current treaty was tempered when I mentioned the news to my 17-year-old daughter. Not only did she fail to recognize the significance of the agreement between the U.S. and Russia, she voiced extreme apathy at the thought of nuclear war.
What is wrong with kids today? (See, my age is showing and I’m already sounding like my grandparents!)
I do recognize that my generation’s fear of nuclear war is nothing compared to what U.S. residents felt in the 1960s. Cuba — backed by the communist Soviet Union — had missiles aimed at our country a mere 90 miles away! According to my parents, today’s color-coded terror alert advisory is nothing compared to our nation’s fear frenzy in the 60s when nuclear war drills were common practice in elementary schools and prudent families built bomb shelters in their back yards.
While I do not wish for my daughter to live in fear of nuclear war every day of her life, I think it is important for her and her peers to understand the fragile world we live in. The atomic bomb, “Little Boy,” which the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, caused an explosion of blinding light, accompanied by radiant heat from the fireball. The Hiroshima fireball was 1,200 feet in diameter, with a temperature of 7,200 F. Near ground zero, everything flammable burst into flame, glass products and sand melted into molten glass, and any humans were either vaporized or turned to carbon in an instant. One victim left only a shadow, permanently etched into stone steps near a bank building.
This history should not be forgotten. It is the job of future generations to make sure that there is never a need to use weapons of mass destruction again.
To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.