Thursday, May 13, 2010

Growing Up with Nuclear War Fears Part Two: Better Dead Than Red

Part Two: Better Dead Than Red

I have been prepared to defend my country, my family and every American’s freedom ever since I got a grasp on what it all meant.

That was way back when I was in elementary school.

The Cuban Missile Crisis, of October 1962, occurred while I was twelve years of age and in the sixth grade in elementary school.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, I remember very clearly watching my father watch TV way more intensely than ever before. It was in the olden days, before TV remote controls were popular. So when my dad was changing the station dial on the TV, to choose which show to watch, he often sat on a foot stool right there in front of the TV. But, during the terrifying Cuban Missile Crisis, he stayed there sitting on that stool instead of getting up and going to sit on the sofa and watch the TV show, that he had chosen to watch, as was his normal habit. He sat there all zeroed in on the TV like a cat watching a mouse hole.

He wouldn’t move.

It got weird to me, so I asked my Dad what all that stuff on TV about the underwater missiles being pointed at us and the Communist Cubans and Russians and Khrushchev vs. Kennedy really meant. I had always known that for my entire twelve years on earth we had had Communist Nuclear Missiles pointed at us every split-second of the day, from somewhere; so I was wondering what was so important about these new missiles being found only ninety miles from the southern shores of America.

My Father turned on his stool, looked me square in my eyes, his face never before and never again had such a soul draining seriousness about it, and he said to me, “It means that we may be going to war.”

Dad knew that it wasn’t going to be like World War Two, when he had spent so many harrowing moments, months and years at sea fighting in the US Navy, over in the South Pacific. This new kind of 1962 war was comin’ right there to him on that stool he was sitting on, with his family all around him, in the form of nuclear fire and brimstone raining down hell on earth.

When I was attending elementary school - Merritt Elementary School in Dundalk, Maryland - I had a male sixth grade teacher who was a twenty-six year old, recently discharged Air Force Veteran. He was the first male classroom teacher that we had ever had in my school. He had done his four years of college, then four years in the Boy Scouts, I mean Air Force (sorry, accidental slip on inter-service rivalry from an old soldier), then he came to teach at our elementary school. We children in the class liked the teacher a lot.

Sometime shortly after the Cuban Missile Crisis ended, one day during class, in the sixth grade, our male teacher gave us a lecture on capitalism vs. communism.

He went up to the black board and started writing:

Capitalism vs. Communism

Better Dead Than Red (this is still my favorite)

It’s better to die on your feet than to live on your knees. (I have always admired this sentiment)

Kill or be Killed (then as now, you betcha)

Meat Eaters vs. Rice Eaters (I fell for this one)

And maybe a few others, that I can’t remember.

I don’t know if he had been lectured on or brain washed with this subject in the Air Force, or else he had been enamored with the ideals when once spealled out during a lecture, when he had heard it in the military or somewhere, or it had come from his favorite American capitalistic propaganda pamphlet.

When my classmates and I had been about three years younger, we had had that air raid drill change of tactics school assembly, when American schools changed from practicing reacting to the threat of conventional bombs being dropped on them to the threat of one humongously powerful nuclear bomb being dropped near them.

Then we had three more years of worsening nuclear fears, as we read more about nuke warfare in magazines and newspapers and also saw TV news stories about America’s nuclear war race with Russia and China.

When that male teacher started in on that capitalism vs. commie-ism lecture, we were ready to listen to that man. We students sat straight up in our chairs, then sat still, silent and serious the entire time he spoke to us.

Most of the capitalism vs. commie-ism lecture points, that the teacher spoke of that day, have fairly well stood the test of time. He had read the entire English language version of the Russian Commie Hand Book On How To Overthrow Capitalist Governments, and he pulled his copy of it out and showed us some of the written propaganda that is in it. He declared that it was all commie crap, and, basically, it was. I think? I don’t know. Was it a true translation of an actual Russian Commie pamphlet?

Even back then, I suspected that it may not have been a true translation or even a genuine copy of commie crap. It was written in the forceful style of all hard core propaganda that was a natural turn off to me back then and makes me laugh today.

I remember him showing us one page in it that had instructions for commie infiltrators and agitators. It instructed them to lie, cheat, steal, murder, commit acts of sabotage, disrupt the economy anyway that they could and do what ever else that they had to do to destroy capitalism in America and forcibly install a communist government on us here. Considering all that I have learned in my adult life about communist societies, that book definitely had some realistic facts in it. Not only are communist governing tactics miserable to have imposed on you, the gross national products of communist countries are dismal failures.

There was a part in the commie hand book that said that the best way to have a top notch nation is:

“From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs. If one person drives a garbage truck, and another person is a doctor, as long as they both do their jobs the best that they can, then they each deserve the same rate of pay and to live in the same kind of houses.”

But the teacher said that life doesn’t work very well that way.

As a kid, that was confusing, because I thought that that meant that if everyone worked hard and shared everything equally, like we were taught to do all through elementary school, then the whole world would get along just peachy keen.

Oh my goodness!

That shows the juvenile truth about communism!

Well dog my cats!

You are a capitalist like me. You know that we humans need to be inspired by our food-clothing-shelter basic needs plus a desire to better ourselves and live finer lives, with our loved ones, in order for us to have the inner drive to be able to establish and maintain a good, safe, secure, prosperous society. That set of facts was in the pro-capitalist section of our teacher’s lecture.

“It’s better to live on your feet or die on your knees” (not according to that old guy in the hotel in Catch 22), and “better dead than red” are debatable ideals, and each has its time and place, but that all laid some heavy thoughts upon the minds of us sixth graders.

Although “kill or be killed” is always right in any situation that absolutely is a kill or be killed situation, it is not something that most twelve year old minds can think through to the point of knowing when to do what to whom.

That “rice eater vs. meat eater” bit in his lecture certainly fell short of its declarations, though.

That teacher assured all of us young Euro-American children, in our little segregated school house, that: we would always win wars against Asians; they are smaller in stature than us, and they live off of a diet that often consists mainly of rice, so therefore they are weaker than us; we are big, muscular, strong, healthy meat eaters; we will always beat little rice eaters in war.

That sure as hell ain’t so! Ask any Nam Vet. Before their first one year tour in Vietnam was over, many of them were calling that little lifetime rice eater called Charlie Cong: Mr. Charles or Sir Charles.

All in all though, on that day in 1962, my sixth grade teacher effectively instilled in me an already growing firm conviction to kill commies for American Mommies, until I was fed to the worms.

Copyright 2010 David Robert Crews {a.k.a. ursusdave}

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