To the Editor:
On November 22, 1963, the United States of America was involved in what was known as “The Cold War.” The term, first used by George Orwell in a post-World War II essay about the atomic bomb, referred to the relationship between the two emerging “superpowers,” the United States and the Soviet Union. With Hitler removed as a common enemy, former allies – then US President Harry Truman and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin – began jockeying for position as a global power.
Flash forward to 1963: The situation and tensions on the world stage were the same, but the key players were different. John F. Kennedy was the president of the United States, and Nikita Khrushchev was premier of the Soviet Union. There was the Berlin Wall erected in Germany in 1961, separating West Berlin from East Berlin. It was literally a wall, but symbolically represented the struggle between Democracy and Communism.
One little-known fact is that Khrushchev had initiated a secret correspondence with Kennedy via private couriers as early as September, 1961. It was about their “common concern for peace in the nuclear age.” Khrushchev even used the analogy of “Noah’s Ark where both the ‘clean’ and the ‘unclean’ found sanctuary.” He went on to write that it didn’t matter who the clean and the unclean were, but that “they are all equally interested in one thing and that is that the Ark should successfully continue its cruise.”
Kennedy’s written response two weeks later: “I like very much your analogy of Noah’s Ark, with both the ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’ determined to stay afloat. Whatever our differences, our collaboration to keep the peace is as urgent – if not more urgent – than our collaboration to win the last world war.”
This common goal was in no small way a contributing factor – one year later – in averting a nuclear war over the Cuban Missile Crisis.”
The following year, Kennedy gave the commencement speech at American University. In the Saturday Review, then editor Norman Cousins wrote: “At American University on June 10, 1963, President Kennedy proposed an end to the Cold War.”
Five-and-a-half-months later, JFK was murdered.
We have had numerous wars since then, beginning with Vietnam. Today we have The War on Terror. Trillions of dollars funneled into the war machine. Hundreds of thousands of lives lost throughout the world.
So who cares about the death of a President who 50 years ago set out on a journey towards peace by beginning to abandon the testing of nuclear weapons? I suggest anyone interested in a more peaceful world during our lifetime – and in the lives of our children and grandchildren – care.
173 Boggs Hill Road, Newtown October 16, 2013